THE church which is home to the Accrington Pals' Chapel has been forced to close.
St John's Church in Addison Street, Accrington, is to permanently shut its doors due to problems with the electrical system.
The church temporarily closed in April so inspections could be carried out on the 143-year-old building.
It had failed to pass a compulsory inspection and a certificate of worthiness could not be issued.
The church council has now voted to make the closure permanent rather than carry out the repairs which would have cost an estimated £20,000 - money which the church did not have.
The vicar of St John's and St Augustine's in Huncoat, the Rev Ian Robertson, said: "This has been a difficult decision to make but I am most impressed and encouraged by the way many members of the church council have begun to cope with the need for a new vision for the church in Accrington.
"The future of the Pals' Chapel will be central to our thoughts and prayers in our planning for the future."
The closure means a new home must be found for the chapel dedicated to the heroism of local soldiers who fought and perished in World War One.
The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev John Goddard, attended the church council meeting at which the decision was taken.
He said: "We have a room prepared for all the memorabilia of the chapel and that shows the people are very positive about caring for their history.''
The Bishop added: "I was impressed by the courageous, forward-looking attitude of the church council. Although suffering grief at the closure of their parish church, they embraced the hard reality and decided they would need to close the building and plan for the future."
The decision to close was taken by 11 votes to none with four abstentions.
Several options have been suggested for the future of the parish including joining with other C of E churches in the town, developing a worship centre at a local Church of England school or sharing premises with the Methodist Church in Cambridge Street.
A final service for the 120-strong congregation is planned for 21 July at 11am, either in St John's church grounds or in St Augustine's church.
- Each year a service in memory of the Pals has been held on the Sunday nearest 21 February to commemorate the day in 1915 when the Pals left their homes in Accrington for the war. Many were never to return - hundreds were killed on the first day of the Batle of the Somme in 1916. The chapel contains a book of remembrance commemorating those who fell, along with plaques and banners representing their regiment.