A fond farewell to Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church as it hosts its last service

The last service at Hemel Hempstead's Methodist Church in Marlowes. PNL-140325-142603001
The last service at Hemel Hempstead's Methodist Church in Marlowes. PNL-140325-142603001

A town centre church that opened its doors for the first time in 1890 held its last service on Sunday.

People came from far and wide to be a part of the special occasion at the Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church in Marlowes, including the Shephard family, pictured below, who travelled from Shropshire and Norwich.

Retired deacon Ann Shephard and husband Tony married at the church, their children were baptised there and their youngest daughter Jane married husband James Hernon there – they too attended the last service with their three children, Niamh, 10, Caitlyn seven, and Erin, five, and Ann and Tony’s eldest daughter Ruth was also there.

The Sunday service was conducted by Rev Linda Woollacott because Rev Vindra Maraj-Ogden was away and Tony, who was born in Boxmoor, spoke about the history of the church, which is also where he met his future wife.

He said: “It is a building with many memories.

“God is permanent but our buildings are not and we move onto the future but He is always with us.

“The service was a closing of a door but the church is looking forward to its future.”

The Shephard family moved away from Hemel Hempstead in 1999 but made the special trip back to the town to be a part of the final service.

“It has fond memories and we have folk there who are very much our friends,” said Tony.

The church faces demolition to make way for ambitious plans to improve the town centre.

Supermarket Morrisons was due to move onto the neighbouring Civic Centre site and a state-of-the art college built next door, but these plans are now up in the air after the store giant pulled out of the deal because a planned petrol station was blocked under environmental concerns for the underground water table.

It now looks likely that the land could be used for housing rather than a supermarket.

Meanwhile, the church is having a new home built in Northridge Way – but the work there has stalled and new contractors are being sought to complete the project.

Until the new church is ready services will be conducted at Warners End Community Centre.