A SMALL evangelical church is opening its fourth place of worship in Oxfordshire to accommodate its growing membership in the county.
The Plymouth Brethren, which has 233 county members, hopes to convert a disused leather workshop in Long Wittenham, near Didcot, into a Gospel Hall.
The church, which already has halls in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Didcot and Harwell, has bought the empty building near Bodkin’s sports field.
Leaders say they need to find new meeting places to cater for the church’s growing popularity in Oxfordshire.
The brethren has submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council, due to be decided on Monday, August 25.
The Church of the Plymouth Brethren are hoping to convert this old leather workshop into their new church in Long Wittenham.
Church member Bruce Robertson said it wants to raise the ceiling and tidy up and carry out repairs at the rear of the building.
He said: “The building won’t be used for anything else but religious meetings on Sunday mornings and Monday evenings.
“We estimate attendances of between 30 and 40 with parking for up to 10 vehicles on site.
“We hope our new meeting place will be open by autumn.”
Long Wittenham Parish Council raised concerns about increased traffic along Northfield Lane, but Mr Robertson said traffic movements would be “much less” than when it was used as a business.
Council chairman Tom Bowtell said: “We look forward to welcoming a new organisation to the village and wish the Plymouth Brethren every success in its work here.
“One of the nice things about the plan is they are not looking to change the building, which is a lovely old stables.”
The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church dates back to the early 19th century, when it grew out of dissatisfaction with the Anglican Church. It has been worshipping in Oxfordshire ever since. Worshippers meet in simple meeting rooms where they celebrate the Lord’s Supper, join in prayer and preach the gospel.
The early founders adopted the name Plymouth Brethren because most of the new teachers were based in that city and it has a global following.
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