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Church gets backlash from campaigners for plans to partially demolish local hall

Mon 12 Mar 2018
By Cara Bentley

Elim church plans in Merton have received backlash from locals who said it will alter a local hall and plant a church on the land.

The decision to remove parts of the building has angered some members of the community who suspect the church in Wimbledon will not welcome LGBT groups into its new facilities and also those who are fond of the building. 

Elim told premier: ""While we were happy in our previous premises, having only purchased and renovated them for our purposes in the last 11 years, we agreed to move to Merton Hall at the request of the Council to help make room for a vital secondary school in the area."

They added: "We do not seek to exclude any one group from our new premises at Merton Hall.  On the contrary, the church aims to be welcoming and loving to all people regardless of age, gender, or sexual and religious orientation.  

"This means that everyone is welcome to attend all our services and activities, and be supported in other practical ways as we continue to serve the community, regardless of their lifestyle.  It is, therefore, not the case that LGBT+ individuals will be deliberately singled out and excluded from Merton Hall. 

"As a church we will continue to work to up-hold our core Christian beliefs as bible-believing Christians, affirming God’s love for all human beings, and looking to the Bible for guidance in our faith and conduct – while being sensitive to other faiths and encouraging freedom of religion and belief for all. 

"In terms of community involvement, the church has fed over 21,000 people from across the community since its foodbank started in 2012, giving out 195 tonnes of food to those in need. 

"The foodbank is supported by other local churches and organisations and fed 4,215 people from October 2016 to October 2017, including 1,689 children. Over the festive season, the church provided Christmas food parcels to 366 families to help them at Christmas, including special luxury items such as Christmas puddings, chocolates and crackers."

Local Councillors have expressed criticism of the Labour council who made the deal with the church in exchange for turning their old building into a new school.

The alterations will involve partial demolition of the building, refurbishments inside and the building of a new worship hall, café, foyer and meeting rooms.

Locals on twitter have expressed their views on the move:

£4,725 has been pledged by 127 people to save the building. 

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