On Saturday 30th Sept all the local Churches in the Bury and Rossendale Mission Community group opened their doors for anyone to have a look. A group from St Annes took the opportunity to walk round all 8 Churches. The opening times were such that an eye on the clock was required and each visit restricted to 20 minutes thus ensuring we were able to see each Church and be back at Emmanuel Centre for the BBQ.

Edenfield Parish Church was the starting point at 9.00. The present Church dates from 1778 but was the site of a Chantry chapel in the 13th century. As with most Churches in the group, communion services are every fortnight with congregations between 40 and 20.

We set off Through Irwell Vale and Lumb to Stubbins St Philips another lovely old Church but relatively new parish formed in 1927. Here there is an active Hall including full time nursery. Similar numbers at service sat 20 and again fortnightly communion services.

We moved on following the river Irwell to St Paul’s in the centre of Ramsbottom with the attractive newly designed remembrance garden. This again attracts congregations of around 20 and offers communion services twice a month. The church has no hall but has designed an area for Sunday school etc at the back of Church with a glass partition separating the area from the main Church. This opens every Saturday as a public café and boasts the best bacon butties in Ramsbottom. St Paul’s also have an active group of bell ringers, including an all ladies team.

The group then climbed to St Andrews built in 1834 as a Scottish Presbyterian Church funded by the Grant family who closed it in 1860, 14 years later it was consecrated by the C of E . Pews were removed in 1993 to create the present set up with a refreshment area as you walk in. Communion is again fortnightly and numbers are about 40

We then set about the serious climb via tag wood to Holcombe Emmanuel another with an interesting history. As with Edenfield the site was originally a Chantry Chapel formally known as Holcombe Chapel, before it was closed, became a prison in the 17th century. A new chapel was consecrated in the 1700s this chapel was replaced with the present Church building in 1853. Congregation numbers are similar to St Andrews and communion services 2nd and 4th Sundays.

A pleasant country walk followed contouring Holcombe Hill round Morebottom Road before dropping through Reddisher Woods to St Mary’s Hawkshaw. This is another Church were pews have been removed but now servers as a hall for the neighboring primary school. There are very close links here and St Mary’s benefit with an active young congregation numbering 60 and communion 2nd & 4th Sundays. The Church is well used throughout the week with Youth groups, coffee mornings and campfire services.
St Anne’s was the next en route which we are all very familiar with, but a big thank you to the gang of volunteers who made the vistors from the other Churches very welcome.

Final destination was Emanuel Centre on Longsight Road were a very welcome BBQ (or 2 for some of the St Anne’s walkers) was enjoyed.

Overall is was a very interesting day seeing the different styles of Churches and worship across the region. How Churches are trying to survive and attract new members there is far too much to cover in one article. The whole group was warmly welcomed in each Church and people joined our walking group along the way which added to a very enjoyable day.