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St John's United Reformed Church in Stourbridge has gone on the market after it closed following its final service in January.

A bid is now being launched to try and form an action group who can raise the funds to buy the building and prevent it from being taken over by developers.

The campaign is being spearheaded by Wordsley musician Chris Passey, who his part of community arts group Gig Caritas, which was based at the church until it closed - and has already been backed by Dudley Council leader and Stourbridge councillor Pete Lowe.

The church also has a special place in his family as both his parents and grandparents were married there.

A decision was taken to close the 150-year-old church due to its dwindling congregation and a growing list of repairs.

As well as hosting church services, the building has also acted as an invaluable facility for community groups - with campaigners desperate not to lose it.

Rainbows and Guides met at St John's and the Black Country Foodbank was also run from the church.

The church, on Vauxhall Road, is being advertised for sale through commercial property surveyors Bulleys, which is inviting offers from £50,000.

The sale listing says the church could be opened again for religious use but 'alternatively the property would be suitable for other uses'.

Mr Passey has set up a petition calling for the church to be spared for the community and is keen to hear from anyone who can support the campaign.

He said: "As a result of being in the building we have really got to know the people from the foodbank and guides, everyone is on good terms.

"There was a swelling of hope we can do something about this.

"The Heritage Lottery could be one route to go down as it is Grade II listed. If we can get £50,000 we could buy the building and fix the roof.

"Unfortunately as it is not Church of England there is no pre-requisite for it to be a church or even a standing building.

"The fear is it is going to be turned into flats and that would be such a shame.

"We want to hear from anyone who think they could use the building."

Councillor Lowe has urged people to back the campaign.

He said: "It has been a community hub for many years as well as a place of worship.

"It is one of the gateways to Stourbridge, just off the ring road and I will certainly be doing all I can to work with interested groups to maximise the chances of it continuing as a place for the community for years to come."

An emotional final service, attended by more than 40 people, was held at St John's on New Year's Day.

The petition can be viewed at www.change.org/p/save-st-john-s-keep-it-in-the-community

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