It has retained the original church architecture complete with an inscribed cross in front. But once inside, you could buy items such as condoms, cigarettes and alcohol, among other things, items you would not be caught with in a church.
Reverend Dr Bob McKinley, former minister at the church, said it was sad to see the building become a shop. “Although it is sad, it is only a building. You could say it is not appropriate to have a Tesco Express in it but once it is sold, it is no longer under our control,” he added.
In Bristol, St Paul’s church that was constructed in the 1790s was adopted in 2005 by Circomedia, a training school for acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, and hoppers and tightrope walkers after it proved untenable to operate as a church. It, however, remains consecrated meaning it could still be used for services.
London hosts O’Neill’s pub in Muswell Hill, which is also a former basilica that has retained its church appearance. At the nearby Leicester Square, a former church previously played host to Walkabout Inn – a bar – but which has since been moved.
The cathedral now remains derelict. Located in Brixton, London, former St Matthew’s Church has been host to two nightclubs, Mass and Babalou. The two clubs have since ceased operations due to insolvency issues.
Other churches are also being turned into homes. In 2008, The Sanctuary, Newchurch, in Lichfield, Staffordshire was turned into a home and sold at Sh94.5 million (£700,000) while a neighbouring church, The Chapel, went for Sh61 million (£450,000) after being converted into a home.
The Old Chapel in N Yorkshire fetched Sh88 million (£650,000) after a similar transformation that saw all the churches retain their natural church appearance. Britain’s National Secular Society executive director Mr Keith Porteous Wood says the conversion of churches that have been empty for years is regarded favourably, given that something that had been derelict is now in use.
Wood was, however, magnanimous commenting on the tendency, saying he empathises with the former members of such churches.
“Last weekend I was in Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, and as I passed one of the many converted churches, I remember thinking what a tragedy that must be those that had worshipped there. I guess the same applies to those who spend their working lives in a business that closes down,” Wood told The Standard on Saturday.
Njoka says Kenya is also headed there probably faster than how UK and other developed countries got there since we have advantage of faster technology and acculturation.