New lease of life for ancient Flintshire church as work begins on Well-Being Centre
An ancient church in Holywell, long associated with pilgrimage and healing, is hoping to receive a new lease of life when it opens as a Well-Being Centre.
St James’ Church, which is above St Winifred’s Holy Well, ceased to be the regular place of worship for the town in 2007 when St Peter’s Church was built on Rose Hill.
Now, funds are being raised to launch Well-being @ St James’, which will see the church transformed into a place for healing and community.
This will include space for a parish nurse and various support groups, as well as a cinema, coffee shop and a dedicated space for prayer.
In addition, the people of Holywell will continue to be able to use the church as a warm and comfortable setting to celebrate key life events.
Work has already begun by a team of volunteers, led by a project manager, to start the restoration of the building and a new chapel space has been created.
Regular gardening days are held to clear the grounds and open days take place to welcome visitors and pilgrims.
Applications have been made to a number of grant-making bodies to raise more than £470,000 to finance the project.
The Vicar of Holywell, Father Dominic Cawdell OGS said: “Well-being @ St James’ seeks to breathe new life and imagination into the much-loved church of St James.”
“The churches in Holywell have been at the heart of the community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, providing food support and access to a range of services.”
“This work has revealed the levels of need in our town and people now look to the church for support.”
“The opening of a well-being centre at St James’ will significantly help people further in practical, emotional and spiritual ways.”
Holywell has been a place of Christian healing and pilgrimage for centuries.
St Winifred’s Well is reputedly the longest continual place of pilgrimage in Europe and is an important part of Wales’ national heritage.
The renewed church building will contain a coffee shop in the south aisle, run in collaboration with local charities to enable those with learning difficulties and mental health issues to find employment and support.
There will be provision for a counselling service in the new Well-being Rooms and a parish nurse, who will provide support to all in the community.
Several support groups will be based at the Well-being centre, offering help with bereavement, cancer and dementia amongst other issues.
Large services, such as weddings, funerals or Remembrance Day, will continue to take place in the main body of the building which will also be used as a community cinema and a space for concerts and performances.
The project manager for Well-Being @ St James’ Father Christopher Powell OGS said: “St James’ is facing a bright future and these are exciting days. ”
“We’re looking forward to revitalising this important part of Holywell’s heritage and making it available to all those who need it.”
Donations to Well-being @ St James’ can be made via GoFundMe.com Fundraiser by Dominic Cawdell : Well-Being @ St James’ (gofundme.com) and a book of Donors will be kept in the church to remember all those who financially support the project.
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