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St Hilda's Community Church in Leavesden to close after 27 years
A community church dubbed "the church in cupboard" will bid farewell after 27 "fond and memorable" years.
St Hilda’s Community Church, based in Leavesden Green Community Centre, Clarke Way, will close its doors due to a decline in clergy and resources, just before its 28th birthday next month.
The church was founded by Jane and John Bass in 1984, after Malcom Lesiter, a vicar from All Saints Church in Leavesden, wished to reach out to those from the parish who lived in the Leavesden Green Estate.
A new church was named as Leavesden Green Community Church and then later became St Hilda’s Church in 2002.
Felicity Frith, of Chapel Close, who has been going to St Hilda’s for 20 years, looked back fondly on what she described as a "manic" few years.
Mrs Frith said: "It was the church in the cupboard - every morning we could come and take out what we needed for the service and set up and then pop it back in and close the cupboard doors once again.
"We would always have to think outside the box at St Hilda’s which was an informal and relaxed place, where children were always welcomed.
"We held many events in the community and residents especially enjoyed our carol services and harvest fesitvals.
"It is such a shame and we will never say St Hilda’s will never return because we never know what is likely to happen.
"We should be opening churches, not closing churches."
The community church was run by volunteers and the last paid curate was Jo Spreadbury.
Recent services were filled with the sound of 11-year-old Joshua DeBono playing the piano and learning the church organ.
For Gladys Coldman, being a member of the congregation at St Hilda’s has been quite a journey.
Mrs Coldman, who lives in Leggatts Rise, recalled how she watched her next-door neighbour go along to church for years, but never found the urge to go. However, a leaflet inviting residents to a Millennium service by Revered Richard Winslade, changed all this.
She said: "I got a leaflet through the door and I don’t why but this time I decided to go.
"From then on I carried on going to church and have never looked back.
"My children and even my grandchildren began to go. My three-year old grandson loves it there.
"We are all very upset and it is such a shame, but I guess that is life."
Mrs Coldman, who married in July 1964, and her husband renewed their marriage vows at St Hilda’s in 2004. She said: "It was something I really wanted to do and it was a very special day. "
Members of the congregation are now welcomed to All Saints Church in All Saints Crescent.
Reverend Chris Davey, who is vicar of All Saints and regularly held services in St Hilda’s, said the closure brought negative and positive news.
Reverend Davey said: "There is a sadness about St Hilda’s closing - however, this was due to the new challenges we now face, such as a rise in technology, the internet and social networking.
"It is not about a lack of clergy and resources. We had to re-think our plans and to ensure we best use our resources and move forward, meant we had to work together and work differently.
"We are welcoming members of the congregation of St Hilda’s back home to All Saints."
A farewell service will be held this Sunday (October 21) in St Hilda's Community Church.
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