OLDHAM, Manchester – A church in Oldham has been given permission to remove its pews to host their Muslim neighbors in interfaith events and maintain ties between followers of the two faiths.
“The purpose of the re-ordering of the Church is to open up the Church for community use, as part of its service and mission to the mainly Muslim community in the parish and to enable the wider community to share its heritage,” the Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester told The Express.
“The Church wishes to be a place of welcome, growth and engagement for the local communities.”
The St Thomas Werneth church in Oldham won the right to remove its pews from Geoffrey Tattersall QC, who said the proposals would have “major public benefit outweighing any harm resulting from the loss of the pews.”
The church’s earlier proposal to remove pews was challenged by the Victorian Society, which claimed the removal of the pews could damage the church.
However, the majority welcomed the decision in the area, which has an 88 percent non-White British population.
The Venerable Cherry Vann, the Archdeacon of Rochdale, said there was significant interfaith work going on in the area and there was a “genuine desire among some of the Muslim leaders to build bridges and work in partnership with the Church.”
“Moreover there is clearly some goodwill towards the church in the (at present) largely Muslim community in Werneth and it is important that the church has the flexibility and capacity to exercise a ministry of hospitality to those living in the parish through a variety of community-based activities.”