WORSHIPPERS have successfully raised £150,000 towards bringing an disused church back to life.

St Helen’s Chapel, in Maidenburgh Street, Colchester, has been home to the Orthodox parish for 18 years.

The parish launched an appeal last summer to raise funds to buy St Martin’s Church, in West Stockwell Street, Colchester, as the chapel was too small for the numbers attending.

So far more than £150,000 out of the £200,000 target has been raised to revive the church, which has medieval heritage.

Father Alexander Haig said: “The fundraising has been going really well.

“We opened the appeal last June and we are hoping to get the full £200,000 by September.”

The parish appeal and development committee hopes to now obtain the listed building consent and other necessary permissions needed to complete the process.

The appeal will remain open as additional funds will be needed after the purchase to for the installation of heating, lighting and other conveniences.

Father Alexander said: “St Martin’s Church would be very suitable for us and is quite a good size.

“In the chapel we get about 200 worshippers at Easter, but many have to stand outside.

“But St Martin’s Church would be able hold hundreds of us.”

St Martin’s Church has been underused since the parish it once served was merged with its neighbours in 1953.

Since then it has been home to Colchester Theatre Group for 30 years, and has been used as an arts venue.

The church, which has been closed to the public for some time, is now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust.

Father Alexander added: “We praise God for his goodness and so many benefactors – Orthodox and non-Orthodox, local, national and worldwide – for their generosity.”

It is hoped the church will provide Orthodox Christian worshippers with more space, better facilities and the opportunity for more social activities. To donate, visit orthodoxcolchesterappeal.org.uk.