A METHODIST church and a successful organic bakery are to team up to provide a community cafe for local residents within the church building.
Reverend Andrew Stobart approached Clervaux Bakery to run a cafe within Hurworth Methodist Chapel after he realised there was no venue within the village that allowed people to gather during the day for a cup of tea and some company.
After planning agreement from the council to make alterations to the church to provide a serving area and disabled facilities, work to set up the cafe is due to begin in the coming weeks.
The cafe will be a commercial operation, staffed by Clervaux Bakery and supplied with fresh baked goods from its Darlington branch, but will provide community events for the people of Hurworth.
Rev Stobart said the small congregation at the chapel meant setting up a cafe run by volunteers was not feasible but that a professional operation should attract a wider range of people.
He said: “We realised fairly early on that if we did it with volunteers that would mean relying heavily on a small group of people.
“We believe in the church that we should be providing the best for people so we want to provide a quality cafe and food.
“The link with Clervaux is already there, as the trust and its farm is based in the next village, so we can keep it local.
“We feel that there’s an overlap of ethos of what we as a Methodist church want to be doing and what Clervaux offer in terms of sustainability and free trade.”
Worship will continue in the church as usual but the cafe will allow the building to be used for community events for older people, young mothers and children in particular.
Rick McCordall, who runs Clervaux bakery and its sister branches in Northallerton, Thirsk and Stokesley, said he hoped the new cafe would be up and running by early summer.