Sadness as church closes doors after more than half a century of public worship

After more than half a century serving the community Ketley Methodist Church will be closing its doors for public worship.

Ketley Methodist Church members Mary Donaldson, Ann and Anthony Davies, Christine and Daniel Clarke, and Meryl Stobbs.
Ketley Methodist Church members Mary Donaldson, Ann and Anthony Davies, Christine and Daniel Clarke, and Meryl Stobbs.

The church centre in Station Road, Ketley, was the base of 20 regular worshippers and numerous organisations which hired the premises which was renovated to the tune of £140,000 just over a decade ago.

Church leaders said the coronavirus pandemic and a dwindling membership were to blame for a fall in income to cover its running costs and after 55 years it was time to call it a day.

The congregation was created in February 1966 from the merger of Ketley Central, Ketley Brook and Ketley Mount Zion chapels.

The newly built Ketley Methodist Church, in 1966.

Longstanding member Christine Clarke, 78, and her husband Daniel, 81, led many activities over the years including popular lunch and youth clubs.

"We are feeling extremely sad that it has come to this. Dan and I were part of the church council until a few years ago and we've held every role in the church. We loved being part of the fellowship and being with the people. We organised the lunches, prayer meetings, Bible studies and give others lifts to church.

Programme marking the 1952 centenary of the old Mount Zion chapel which is still standing, in Holyhead Road.

"Over time the congregation has diminished and some are now in nursing homes.

"We still have some wonderful men on board who made sure everything was still running.

"As for children's ministry our deacon Julie Morton, Meryl Stobbs and Diane Parkin worked hard to pull families in, but these days there are so many distractions that prevent families from attending church services.

"It breaks our hearts to see that the building is going to close, but that's the reality," Mrs Clarke said.

Ryan Peevor, then aged three and Josh Glapa, aged four, at Ketley Methodist Parent and Toddler Group in 2009.

Groups and activities based at the church included the popular Ketley Boys Brigade and Girls Association, parent and toddlers, Messy Church, disability group Gateway and a keep fit class.

Property steward Anthony Davies, 78, was among those who transferred there in 1966: "Things are changing. Fifty-five years ago we had a good-sized congregation, but it has gone down over the decades. People have left the area and it all comes down to finance to pay a minister and the bills.

The Rev Susan McIvor with Luke Eggerton and Alice Ball, both aged six, of Ketley Infants School at a mock wedding at Ketley Methodist Church in 2000.

"We used to have a annual anniversary service, cantatas and at one time we had thriving youth clubs which attracted teens from the old Manor School, in Hadley. They were a diverse group of black and white young people and we had some fun times. We also ran autumn and Christmas fairs.

"We used to do a lot of fundraising because we wanted to renovate the place. When the Rev Mark Sherman was the minister here 12 years ago. We changed the layout, including the pulpit, upgraded the heating and lighting.

The 1st Ketley Brownies at their Christmas fair, in aid of the Hope House Hospice at Ketley Methodist Church in 2004.

"I will miss it. No doubt we will transfer to other branches in Hadley and Wellington."

The Ketley Boys Brigade and Girls Association will remain in operation.

In a statement The Telford Methodist Circuit said:"After 55 years of faithful worship and service, the congregation at Ketley Methodist Church will be holding its final service on June 27. The Telford Methodist Circuit will become the trustees of the building and will be considering the options for its use over the coming months.

Property steward and long serving member Anthony Davies.

"The Ketley Boys Brigade and Girls Association who meet at the Church will be transferring to Hadley Methodist Church and will be starting in September."

Ketley Central chapel was demolished and replaced by the Ketley flats next to the current building, Ketley Brook is now Telford Seventh Day Adventist Church and Mount Zion is now Wellington New Testament Church of God.

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