OAKWORTH Methodist Church has unveiled a £260,000 plan to extend its building in the centre of the village.

The ambitious improvement project includes a new collapsible stage, extra toilets and storage, dedicated pre-school facilities, and extra meeting space.

In addition church leaders want to employ a youth worker to develop drama-based worship and community activities.

The new facilities will make it easier for the church to stage its hugely-popular annual pantomime and support a host of existing user groups.

Church bosses will next month launch the Mission Possible appeal to raise £33,500 towards the project costs through members of the congregation and community fundraising.

The appeal will be launched on October 3 with an event at the church where people and groups will be asked to pledge money and other support.

The church has already secured £122,500 towards the cost of building work, including a large sum from Methodist bodies. It aims to raise the remaining £104,000 by applying for external grants.

The Rev Sandie Exley-Watts, the Methodist minister responsible for Oakworth, said a church team had spent several years developing a vision and strategy for the future.

Much of this has centred on how to build on the church’s strengths to further its ‘Mission’ of spreading the word of Jesus in the community.

The Rev Exley-Watts said the “exciting” Mission Possible project would further the Mission amongst local young people, bring practical benefits to the church, and help it meet its legal and community obligations.

She said: “We’re delighted to confirm consent has at last been given to proceed with the fundraising.

“It is a mammoth undertaking, and there will be many more problems to overcome along the way.

“We are praying for a really magnificent response to the appeal launch to prove to external grant providers that this project is well supported.”

The Mission Possible project will create a new, larger layout for the church with everything under one roof, and a lower carbon footprint.

Up to five groups at a time will be able to use the building, and church members will no longer have to spend several weeks each year building and dismantling a full-size stage for the popular annual pantomime.

Mission Possible will be launched to the public on October 3 between 10am and 2pm, with a display of the plans.

Upcoming fundraising events including a talk by historian Ian Dewhirst about Keighley between the two world wars on October 8, a singalong evening on November 11, and ‘Tea at the Ritz’ on October 17.

E-mail dhowarth@oakworthmethodists.org or call David Howarth on 01535 215784 for further information or to support the project.