A HISTORIC church is commemorating 100 years of service to the community.
The church of St Hild and St Helen, in Dawdon, Seaham, will celebrate the anniversary with a packed day of events tommorow.
The celebrations, which will run through to the evening, aim to honour the history of the church – known as the Pitmen’s Cathedral – and what it still offers to the community.
There will be a Victorian Christmas market, a wedding fashion show, songs of praise – with hymns ancient and modern – craft stalls and bric-a-brac sales.
Pastor David Taylor has been at St Hild and St Helen’s since it was taken over by the Lighthouse Christian Centre, a Pentecostal church, in 2009, which then became the St Hild and St Helen’s Christian Fellowship.
“We’ll be showing things from the Edwardian era through to the modern day,” said the 57-year-old.
“We will have a wedding show and gowns will be shown from the Edwardian day, to modern gowns which celebrate the work we have done in our programme Marriage Matters.”
The Fellowship offers a free marriage service, whereby couples can use the church and borrow free wedding garments and get free flowers.
It said that with the church being in the heart of the community for 100 years, many people from the surrounding area and further afield may want to revisit and revive past memories they have had within the building, such as weddings, christenings and special family events.
St Hild and St Helen’s has survived bombings and bankrupcy throughout its lifetime.
It has undergone a complete revamp in the last decade, after it turned from Church of England to Pentescostal curch and was given an overhaul by the Christian Fellowship.
Pastor Taylor, whose wife Barbara, 49, also works as a community manager at the church, said: “We refurbished the church in four months after we had acquired it, then we opened in 2009.
“We put in toilets for the first time and a kitchen and we kept it as close to what it was as we could.
“There is a war memorial around the altar.
“We also have community rooms,” said Pastor Taylor, who worked in the mines for 20 years and for the Salvation Army, before becoming a pastor.
“We have lunch club once a week, a knit and natter session and youth club.”
Tomorrow’s events start at 2pm and run until 6.30pm.