VILLAGERS have welcomed news that a church could finally be built in Crossways.

Parishioners have been told that once planning permission has been granted, St Aldhelm’s Church will be built on the Frome Valley CE VA First School site.

The Reverend Jacquie Birdseye, of the united benefice of Moreton, Woodsford, Crossways and Tincleton, said the long-awaited news comes after a 20-year struggle to meet targets set by the Salisbury Diocese.

Archdeacon of Sherborne Paul Taylor said the diocese is committed to the project which will provide a new church room for its ‘largest growing congregation’.

“We are still waiting planning consent and so nothing is finalised as yet.

“However, the diocese is committed to the project and assuming planning permission is gained will start building as soon as is possible.”

He added: “The new church room will be dedicated to St. Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne, and will be known as St. Aldhelm’s Church at Frome Valley School.

“It will not only provide a permanent site for Sunday worship but enable the congregation to run all sorts of community based activities, in what will be purpose built premises.”

Initial plans to build St Aldhelm’s on the school site were scrapped and villagers have been using the Rectory on Warmwell Road as a temporary place of worship for more than ten years.

Villagers have raised more than £100,000 towards the project which Rev Birdseye said will be spent on the maintenance and running of the new church.

She added: “I was appointed to oversee a church being built in Crossways eight years ago and after much fundraising, we are all overjoyed by the news.

“We needed to prove that we could support such a building and as a result of successful fundraising, the diocese has taken over the project.”

It is hoped that the close proximity between the Church of England Voluntary Aided School and St Aldhelm’s will enable a closer partnership between education and worship.

Archdeacon Paul Taylor added: “This is an incredibly exciting project as it further brings together church and church school into a closer relationship.

“It will also provide excellent facilities for this fast growing congregation, who for a number of years have had to rent space in the local youth centre.”

Crossways resident Simon Hunt said: “As a parish, Crossways has struggled for a number of years to meet targets set by the diocese, but through the diligence and effort of many parishioners and the benefice rector we have achieved success.”