Fire-hit Royston church marks Christmas in innovative way

Fire-hit Royston church marks Christmas in innovative way

A church devastated by fire two years ago said Christmas continued to be celebrated in “innovative ways”.

The blaze at St John the Baptist Church in Royston, Hertfordshire, ravaged interior woodwork, the roof and tower when it broke out on 9 December 2018.

Restoration work is under way and the bells, that were damaged and have been recast, will be hung early in 2021.

Treasurer Phil Burchell said he hoped worshippers could return to the 13th Century building by next Christmas.

Debris was cleared from the church during the first phase of restoration, and the roofs of the tower and nave were removed.

Work on the tower has been completed, the roof has been made watertight and a temporary cover and scaffolding has been removed.

Investigators ruled out arson and the church said much of the work would be covered by insurance.

However, £60,000 has been raised through cash donations and a further £16,000 has been raised through a “sponsor a chair” scheme.

Mr Burchell said: “There is still a long way to go before we will be able to once again meet as a congregation in our beautiful house of prayer and where we will be able celebrate Christmas.

“This is very much our main hope for 2021.”

Meanwhile, he said this Christmas would be celebrated in “many innovative ways” due to the “hard work of many people”.

These include a carol service that has been recorded remotely and will be streamed on the church’s YouTube channel on Sunday.

People have been asked to tie a ribbon on the gates to the churchyard in memory of a loved one – the church traditionally asked people to hang a bauble on the Christmas tree in the nave.

And the church will host Christmas Eve and Christmas morning services at the Roman Catholic Church’s hall in Royston.

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