A tiny spiritualist church faced with closure is asking: Is there anybody out there?
The Blue Bell Church in Preston admits it can hardly raise a soul for some services and may be forced to shut its doors after 40 years.
“We are down to just one or two some nights,” said David Lee who has come over from the thriving Connections of Light in Darwen to help stave off closure.
“It’s very bad. But we are determined not to go down without a fight.”
The church, tucked away down an alleyway at the side of the Blue Bell pub in Church Street, has provided comfort and connection for thousands of people in the city since it was launched in the seventies.
Originally called the James Gardner Christian Spiritualist Church after the man who founded it, the Blue Bell used to be standing room only for services not too long ago.
“For some reason things have dropped off. No-one has known it as bad as this, ever,” said David. “They hardly have any money in the bank and things are looking bleak.
“The situation is that if we don’t get congregations coming back then they will have no other option but to close.
“We don’t want to do that, particularly the president Maureen Livesey whose husband Peter was the head of the church before her until he passed away. She wants to keep it open as his legacy.”
The dwindling band of supporters have launched a Facebook page to try and drum up support.
“We are all hoping that we can revive it and get people attending on a regular basis,” added David. “We haven’t got a clue why the congregation has fallen away like this. It is such a friendly and welcoming church.
“There are a lot of other churches open and maybe that is why. My own church is full on a Wednesday night and we offer the same type of service that they do here.”
The Blue Bell Church has begun an open circle meeting on a Friday evening in an attempt to build the congregation back up. They also run demonstrations of mediumship every Saturday and Sunday evenings.
“We are just hoping people will come along, see what it’s like and give it a chance,” said David. “It’s all about trying to prove that there is life after life, trying to prove to people that when their loved ones pass away they are still always around us and with us.
“We believe that life does continue. We try and fetch your loved ones through to give you a message and prove that they are with you.
“At the moment, with only a handful of people in the congregation, everyone has been getting a message.”