Lavington United Reformed Church in Bideford is hoping to be able to welcome back its congregation this Christmas.

After many months of closure for repairs to the masonry on the building, the scaffolding has been removed and the front of the church in Bridgeland Street is visible once again.

Interim Minister Robert Weston said: “We are delighted with the work carried out by Hiax Preservation, Andy and the team have worked in some challenging conditions to repair the stone work.

“We’ve also had the lightning conductors checked and some readers may have seen the steeplejacks film on television or Facebook.

“We were fascinated to see the view from the top of the church, not one that any of us had seen before!”

The congregation have been able to worship together virtually since lockdown and had got back to face-to-face services in October but the latest lockdown restrictions mean that everyone has to worship at home for the time being.

Reverend Weston said: “We are ready to return to our church for face-to-face worship once again, as soon as the current restrictions are lifted. We would really be pleased to celebrate Christmas with our traditional worship services.

“The period of Advent is an important time of preparation for Christmas in the Christian tradition. People of faith have been very understanding this year but the loss of our Easter and Pentecost celebrations has been awful, the cancellation of all our Advent services would compound that loss.

“The church members have been incredibly supportive and generous doing the lockdown and even though the church has suffered a significant blow to its fundraising activities, we have been able to cover our costs this year.

“Like many other charities, our reserves are being drained and we anticipate that we will need extra support from grant making bodies in the coming months.

“Whilst the work on the outside wall has been completed, we now need to raise £11,000 to redecorate the wall on the inside.”

Once the church is allowed to open again, all are welcome to join the congregation if they wish.

For more details go to www.lavingtonurc.org.