They might have teetotal roots, but members of a Bradford Methodist community plan to open a new headquarters in a disused pub.
The Touchstone Methodist Centre, which has “outgrown” its home in Merton Road, has started a fundraising quest to convert the nearby McRory’s pub into its new base in a £950,000 scheme.
The Reverend Barbara Glasson, team leader at the centre, said: “You hear about churches being turned into pubs, but never the other way round.
“When we tell people we’re moving to a pub it makes them smile, because you wouldn’t expect Methodists with teetotal roots to be spending so much time down the pub, but this site is perfect for us.
“Pubs and churches are the organisations of the community. They are places where people meet and enjoy the community, so we’re not so different from each other.”
Staff at the Touchstone centre, which has been based in an end-terrace for 22 years, bought the empty pub in Easby Road last month.
They have secured £450,000 of funding for the scheme, but need to raise an extra £500,000 to turn it into suitable premises for counselling, prayer, hospitality and meeting spaces.
A fundraising event, including games, refreshments, an Asian cookery demonstration and a chance to try weaving or drumming, was held at the new site on Saturday.
The Rev Glasson said: “We are not a church in the traditional sense. The basement, which was the bar area of the pub, is going to be a place for creative arts where people can weave and make things. The first floor will offer conference space and rooms for counselling and the attic is going to be a quiet place for spiritual sharing.
“We are becoming a listening community. We are engaging with Bradford in different ways, helping different people listen to each other.
“We’ve been looking for a safe and bigger space that is much more accessible than the one we have.
“We really wanted to stay in this neighbourhood. That was really important to us. We hope to complete the project in the next 18 months.”