A SPECIAL service is to be held marking 50 years since two village chapels merged.

St Andrew’s Methodist Church, in Coxhoe, near Durham, met for the first time on September 6, 1964, following the merger of the St John’s and Central congregations.

To mark the anniversary, a Golden Jubilee Thanksgiving Service will be held on Saturday, September 6, at 10am.

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Lay preacher Janet Barrett will speak and the service will incorporate the monthly shoppers’ service.

Afterwards, there will be a short slide show of old photographs depicting the history of Methodism in Coxhoe.

The first Methodist congregation in the village met in June 1837, moving into cottages on Foundry Row in 1838.

By the 1860s attendance had reached 300 people and a new Primitive chapel opened in 1866.

A Wesleyan Methodist chapel opened in 1840, which was itself replaced by a new building on Front Street in 1872.

Although the two branches of Methodism were united in 1932, it took more than 30 years before Coxhoe’s two congregations merged, worshipping together in the former St John’s building, while the Central chapel was sold and became a furniture and carpet store.