A CHURCH congregation is embarking on a major building project to restore their place of worship and secure its long-term future.

Christ Church Ainsworth, in Ainsworth Hall Road, is looking to undertake £120,000 worth of work to repair and preserve the features of the Grade II listed building.

Routine architectural inspections revealed that there were elements of the existing church, which was built almost 200 years ago, that would need to be repaired.

Required work includes fixing the church tower, repointing, and underpinning one of the walls to strengthen its foundations and prevent movement.

Reverend Dave Thomson said: "At the moment, there is no danger of the building falling down but as it deteriorates there is a risk that the building will become unusable at some point in the future.

"This is about 'a stitch in time saves nine'. We are spending a lot of money to ensure the long-term future of the building.

"We would like to leave it there for generations to come, as part of our witness to Jesus Christ.

"Technically speaking, the church is not the building, it is the people, but this is our place of worship."

In 2015, Christ Church Ainsworth held anniversary celebrations to mark 500 years of a church building on the site. The date corresponds with the first known reference to the church on a court case in 1515.

Within the Church of England, every church building must be inspected by an architect or chartered building surveyor approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) every five years.

These routine inspections showed that areas of the stonework required attention.

The congregation has obtained permission from the Diocese of Manchester to go ahead with the work, and is currently in the tendering process, applying for grants.

A fundraising committee has also been set up to organise events and raise money for the project that will supplement the church reserves.

Church warden Alison Hartley said: "The Christ Church Challenge is a huge undertaking; the fundraising team are massively enthusiastic and we are keen for the wider community to support us in this."

The first fundraiser will coincide with Turton Rotary Club's annual duck race on Sunday, June 10.

Some of the money raised through ticket sales will go towards the church's building project. Residents are invited to attend the event at Bradshaw Cricket Club from 11am.

Rev Thomson said: "We know we have a long way to go but we are confident we will get there.

"We have been praying for this for a long time."