Ukrainian family's prayers are answered as church is converted into new home

Churchgoers are answering the prayers of a Ukrainian family by converting a place of worship into a home for refugees.

Lesley Holder and Derek Rowson at the church
Lesley Holder and Derek Rowson at the church

Stiperstones Methodist Church is being transformed for a grandmother, husband and wife, three-year-old boy and their cat, who are travelling from the war-torn eastern area of the country, where 80 per cent of their village has been destroyed by bombs.

Volunteers from Rea Valley Methodist Churches are now putting the final touches on the building and looking to get the church furnished, as the family await their visa confirmation.

Eddie Mitton, Ken Jones and Lesley Holder at work

Lesley Holder, from the church group, said: "The building at Stiperstones is relatively modern and already had a kitchen, shower room and toilet and we have converted the once worship area into three good-sized bedrooms. The meeting room has become the living and dining space.

"As a church group we had prayer meetings and collections for the people of Ukraine but really felt that we wanted to do more and so we decided to help in a more practical way.

The former church

"The process of finding a Ukraine family has been long and difficult but we have been lucky enough to have had a Zoom meeting with one particular family who were happy to live out in the countryside. We have invited them to come to our building, which they were over the moon about, and are currently applying for visas.

"They are now living in a one-room bedsit with an aunt. The family arrived at their aunt’s house with the clothes they stood up in, their cat and their car and they will not have much more than that by the time they arrive at their new home."

Lesley Holder in the kitchen

She added: "The generosity of the local communities has been overwhelming, so much has been donated and so much free labour from local tradesmen which has been invaluable. We had an open day, where many people came to see our progress and again gave generously with money donations and offers of help and equipment. We have also had volunteer days where we have started painting and sprucing up the garden and grounds."

The team at the church entrance

The church is holding a concert on Saturday at 7.30pm at Pontesbury Public Hall to raise funds to help furnish the church and support the family when they settle in.

There will be music from Shrewsbury mixed voice choir Of One Accord, musical theatre and jazz singer Sadie-Beth Holder, and folk duo Andy and Nancy Ketchen. The bar will be open from 7pm onwards and there will also be a raffle with three hampers.

Tickets for the concert are available from 01743 790913 or by messaging the Stiperstones Ukraine Project on Facebook, where there is also a link to the Just Giving page.

Lesley added: "Please help us fill the hall for what we know will be a wonderful evening of song whilst raising money for this worthwhile cause."

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