AN Outlane church has become an official place of worship - after hosting services for nearly 100 years.
St Mary's Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten, at the weekend.
It was the first consecration service the bishop has performed since taking up his role last July.
The church's usual 50-strong congregation was swelled by visitors.
The church was built in 1911, when Outlane was in the Longwood parish.
The then Bishop of Wakefield dedicated it as a mission church for Outlane and said he hoped it would become a parish church.
However, it was never consecrated as a parish church because it was also used as a community meeting room.
When the M62 was built in 1978, parish borders changed and Outlane became part of Stainland parish.
St Mary's was then classed as an offshoot of St Andrew's Church at Stainland.
After months of negotiations, the Wakefield diocese decided that, since many churches now double as community facilities, St Mary's should be consecrated.
Now that it is officially Outlane's parish church St Mary's will have its own budget, its ecclesiastical classification will be upgraded and it will have more independence.
It is unusual for old churches to be consecrated and Fr Rodney Chapman, Vicar of Outlane and Stainland, said the event marked a new beginning and a positive sign of growth for St Mary's.
He added: "We are not about withdrawing. We are here to stay."