A priest defended his Hastings church’s renovation works after some members of the congregation were outraged by the changes.
Simon Larkin said claims the altar at Holy Trinity Church will be replaced with toilets were incorrect and the pews have been moved ‘temporarily’.
In a letter to the Observer, Peter Longden said the altar will be turned into a toilet and the pews will be ‘ripped out’.
“People have been queuing for the toilets so we want to put in a new toilet,” Mr Larkin said.
“There will be no changes to the chancel but in the crypt area underneath so our plan is to put a toilet there.
“If people have read the letter and thought there was going to be a toilet in the chancel area, that’s totally incorrect.”
Mr Larkin said their attendances have quadrupled since they took over and have had to make changes to the church’s layout to accommodate everyone.
Mr Longden described the changes as ‘unwanted’ and ‘tragic’ and Jean Oakes said in another letter the original congregation has been ‘marginalised’.
Despite the criticism, the priest said everyone he spoke to at Sunday’s service at the Robertson Street church was supportive of the changes.
“Everyone I spoke to on Sunday was delighted about it and thought it went really well,” he said.
“I think the big story is a church coming alive in Hastings and I hope it will be a big part of the community.
“We’ve had to move things around a bit but if churches don’t make changes they end up dying.
“It’s been an amazing year as we’ve seen the church congregation grow by 500 per cent and we have now got lots of children’s activities and a lot of people in their 20s coming.
“We’ve had people coming back to church and people coming to church for the first time.”
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