Parishioners gathered for an outdoor service – after their church was ravaged by a devastating fire. It has now been 11 days since a fire tore through St John the Evangelist Church, Trent Vale, and the exact cause of the accidental fire is still unknown.
It comes as Church of England officials are still waiting to hear how long the church will be out of service and how much repairs will cost. This afternoon’s service – with the congregation including Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin – took place in the church grounds.
Bishop of Stafford, Venerable Matthew Parker, said: “What we need to do next is do an assessment. We have adjusters and insurance companies helping us think through our next steps. .
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“I think the initial assessment wasn’t as bad as we thought. We’re hoping a lot of it can be rebuilt, but it’s going to be quite a journey to get there. The other area has a lot of smoke damage There is a lot of work to do but we are looking to restore and rebuild.
“It is quite distressing for the churchwardens and the congregation, but they have shown incredible positive support, despite all the difficulties it has brought them.”
Churchwarden Steve Copner added: “The parish wanted to support us by gathering around the damaged church. We are currently using the room opposite for services.
“A lot of people and parishioners came out to support us. We are part of three churches – the others are in Hartshill and Penkhull.”
Susan Bowyer is Principal of St John’s Church of England Primary School. She said: “It shows that the heart of the community is here. The building is badly damaged and may not be open for a long time, but the people are still here as a community and will be there no matter what. I think the kids were pretty shocked when the school comes here for the services. We’re going to look at fundraising.
Deputy Warden Sam Johnson added: “I am massively involved in the church. I am hopeful about the restoration. I don’t know how long it will take, but it will come back bigger and better than ever.”
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