Church celebrates 118 years despite an arson attack

Church celebrates 118 years despite an arson attack

Reverend Philip Slater outside Kelmscott's oldest church.

A local church is celebrating a milestone this year having been established 118 years ago but all of that history was nearly destroyed in an arson attack in the mid 1990s.

The Kelmscott Congregational Church was severely damaged by a fire in 1995.

The arsonist was later caught and sentenced to prison for his crime.

So remorseful was he, that he later wrote a letter to the church community after a church elder sent him a Bible.

The letter read:

“I am writing in regards to the damage to your church.

“As you already know I am guilty of the charge.

“I want to tell you how sorry I am.

“I am finding it hard to write because this seems like the easy way out, but unfortunately this is the only way for me to express myself.

“I honestly couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t apologise.

“I will be in jail for three years and I hope to use this time to sort my personal problems out.

“I have chosen to do this myself.”

Reverend Philip Slater said the man who penned the letter has since turned his life around and is now a regular attendee at another church.

“The church has provided a spiritual home to thousands since 1901,” he said.

“The church may be old but the Christian gospel message is changing lives now and for eternity,” he said.