London church pleads with council to halt demolition
A church in East London says its members will be left "stranded" if they are forced to leave their building - a former synagogue earmarked for demolition.
The International Gospel of Truth Church in Dagenham said a deadline to vacate the site on Becontree Avenue by the end of next month does not allow them enough time to find a suitable alternative location.
Pastor, Rev Sylvester Opoku Manu said there had been a reduction in crime locally since his 400-strong Charismatic congregation arrived last January - something he attributes to its outreach work.
He told Premier: "We have organised a youth programme and we go for street evangelism. Every Tuesday, we have breakfasts for counselling. We have people who come to the church for tea and coffee.
"If they close the church down, there is no God work anymore again. We have not found a place, so we need a prayer that God will touch the heart of the council.
"If they can give it to us, to God be the glory."
Barking and Dagenham Council said there are plans to knock down the building so that new homes can be built in its place.
That's despite a report commissioned by the local authority in 2017 identifying "a need for additional space for faith groups, particularly for Muslim groups and for Christian groups outside the traditional denominations".
A spokesman told Premier: "The pastor was aware that the church would be leasing that property for one year. The lease expired last month.
"The pastor signed a tenancy agreement at will which allows them to continue to occupy the building until 29th March.
"He was aware the letting would be a short-term. He was aware before entering into the lease the building had been earmarked for demolition."
Rev Manu said one factor behind its difficulty in finding a different site was that it had spent more than £30,000 improving the Becontree Avenue location.
He added: "Because of children, we had to get new heating and air conditioning systems, and carpet the offices. There was a leakage too and we solved it."
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