Centenary church is in full bloom

Chruchwarden Pete Brand  with one of the displays at the Firth Park Methodist Church Flower Festival
Chruchwarden Pete Brand with one of the displays at the Firth Park Methodist Church Flower Festival
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A CENTURY after opening its doors and Firth Park Methodist Church is still blooming.

More so than ever in fact, as it stages a flower festival to celebrate.

All this week displays bursting with colour are lighting up the building, which has commanded a landmark position on Stubbin Lane for the last 100 years.

They tell the story of change through the groups that have met there.

When it officially opened on May 4, 1911, the church was surrounded by fields.

Since then the area has become a sprawling city suburb, while the church has been home to a host of groups.

One of the earliest, formed in 1914, was Pleasant Monday Afternoon, an organisation for the ladies of the church which survived until 2006.

It is memorialised in blooms to mark the past, along with two others, the Home Fire Girls – 1917 to 1992 – and Good Samaritans – 1940 to 1993.

Church members spent two years planning the flower festival, which includes displays honouring today’s groups, as well as the hundreds of baptisms and weddings held there.

In contrast the altar is decked out in simple but beautiful displays of white flowers.

Lifelong church member Sue Spencer said: “The church has been a constant in the area which has changed so much, from fields to suburbs, but also the demographic. We were trying to tell that story in flowers.”

The congregation and members of the International Family Worship Centre joined for a special service featuring three past ministers, Jane Sharpe, Tony Malcolm and Derek Hinchliffe.

In preparation for the centenary celebrations, members went through old marriage and christening registers and sent out 500 letters calling for memorabilia.

Kathleen Ideson, aged 62, from Stoke on Trent attended the church as a toddler and married there before moving away in 1969.

She said: “It was just like one big family.”