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Creative Repurposing of Churches in Barnsley

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Barnsley Circuit have creatively repurposed two church buildings to reach out to the local communities they serve in new and exciting ways.

Soft play centre Little Fishes and a community café have been created in Hemsworth Methodist Church and following the closure of Shafton Methodist Church it is now home to a boxing and wellbeing club and a community Food Club.

Little Fishes officially opened in July, and the boxing and food club's opened in June, and it is already clear these projects are reaching local people in new ways.

Elizabeth Haigh said: "In 2016 we started to look at new ways we could reach the wider community outside of church and thanks to many hard months of fundraising we've been able to create a soft play and a community café on the upper floor of Hemsworth Methodist Church.

"The soft play is designed for children up the age of 11 and along with the café is creates a relaxing place for children to play while the grown-ups enjoy a cuppa, and families can enjoy a meal.

"Not everyone wants to come to a church service, however through projects like this, they are happy to come into our buildings and enjoy the fellowship and create new connections. We are transforming the way we look at mission."

In 2021 the decision was made to close Shafton Methodist Church, however the building is now being rented by Four Corners Boxing Gym and Good Food Barnsley.

Four Corners Training Centre offers boxing, body fitness, but also inner fitness to help promote positive mental health. Good Food Barnsley offer a Storehouse and Field food club where people can access much needed food supplies and enjoy food and refreshments at affordable prices.

Revd. Mick Neal said: "It was a difficult decision to close the church at Shafton, but this is a great example of how our buildings can continue to flourish in the local community when they have a new purpose."

District Chair Gill Newton said: "Hemsworth is where Leslie and I first lived when we came into ministry in the Barnsley Circuit 25 years ago. So, it was wonderful to have the opportunity recently to visit Hemsworth Methodist Church again and to officially open the Little Fishes Soft Play Centre which has now been established on the upper floor of the building. This is an exciting and innovative project in the District and it is great to see the Hemsworth church family continuing to combine meeting the needs of their community with sharing God's love."

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