A FORMER factory in Oswaldtwistle is set to re-open to the public next week - after being converted into a £500,000 church.
The Oswaldtwistle Community Church bought the SG Aluminium building in April this year, to convert it into a place of worship and resource centre for the whole community. Worshippers raised the money needed - £300,000 to buy the building and more than £200,000 for refurbishment work - through gift days and donations.
And after more than four months of renovation work, the church will welcome its first visitors to the Watson Street site next Thursday evening in an event hosted by TV personality Bobby Ball.
David Hurst, building project manager for the church, said the new building would house a multi-media presentation suite, 700-seat church hall, reception area and kitchen, conference and office facilities. He added they had been working with outside agencies, including Hyndburn Council, Lancashire County Council, the police and schools, to arrange various community and youth activities within the church.
He said: "Local businesses and groups will be able to rent out our facilities and we want the building to be something that the whole community can use. We think that the facilities we have got to offer will really blow people's minds."
Mr Hurst added that the church would extend its work over a three-year period and may apply for further funding grants. He said: "In the first year, we will mainly concentrate on the Oswaldtwistle and Hyndburn area by working with a number of different agencies that can offer help, such as Citizens' Advice which could set up surgeries in the church.
"We're also going to run IT courses with the help of businesses, and we're trying to get some funding for setting up an after-school club. We will also be holding physical fitness and aerobics sessions here."
Mr Hurst said that this would continue during the second and third years of the plan, but they would gradually extend the church's work to the rest of the region and to Tanzania, where they run clean water and orphanage projects.
Oswaldtwistle councillor Doug Hayes welcomed the development, saying: "It is fantastic that we have this facility, which is not just for the church but for the whole community of Hyndburn. You only have to go there to see the enthusiasm of all the people involved - they are giving their all to this project."
The opening night starts at 7pm. Entry is £4 and tickets are available from Abbey Books on Union Road, Oswaldtwistle, or by calling 399299.