A CONGREGATION who lost their church and worshipped from a pub have now had to switch to online services.

We revealed just over a year ago Holy Trinity and St Matthew’s Church had been holding services in a skittle alley at the Punch Bowl in Ronkswood.

Churchgoers have effectively been homeless since the demolition of its previous 50-year-old building, widely known as The Drum, in November 2014.

But due to Covid-19 stricter rules now prevent them using the pub and a home for the church is again being sought.

Penny Welford, deputy churchwarden, said “The church is extremely grateful to the landlords at the pub for the hospitality extended to them but, at this point in the current pandemic, regulations dictate that services cannot yet be resumed at the pub.

“This has made it more clear than ever that we need a building of our own.”

A fundraising drive was launched to bring the church home to The Drum site and more than £16,000 was raised towards an original £1 million target needed.

Now, the churchwarden said, due to a lack of a community partner to get the scheme off the ground the original plans for a church building have been set aside and the church is “exploring ideas for a smaller and more affordable building for the site” with the target reduced to £500,000.

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Members of the congregation met on Saturday for the first time since lockdown for a socially-distanced picnic at the Countryside Centre when the latest fundraiser, an online balloon race, was launched.

The fundraiser is called the ‘Schools Back’ race, a seven-day computer simulation race starting on September 14 from Moscow.

Supporters are invited to buy a virtual balloon for £3 and give it a name and colour. In addition, different features of the balloon can be selected, such as weight and shape, which will determine its flight performance and maybe enhance its chances of winning.

The churchwarden added: “It should be great fun for adults and children alike to follow the progress of the balloons and compete amongst family and friends over the seven days as they fly from Moscow with the wind – how far and in which direction will they fly?”

First prize for the balloon that travels the farthest is £500 cash, second prize is an Apple iPad and there will also be 10 lucky winners of £10 book tokens.

In addition, for balloons sold by St Matthew’s, there is a £50 cash first prize plus special additional prizes, including vouchers from Tesco, West Midlands Safari Park, The Entertainer and Waylands Yard.

To take part in the latest fundraiser visit https://ecoracing.co/user/page/551.