A CHURCH will close its doors for the final time on New Year's Day after 177 years as a place of worship.
Hopton United Reformed Church at Lower Hopton, Mirfield, is closing because of a lack of cash and congregation.
Repairs costing £300,000 need to be carried out on the Georgian building on Calder Road.
But the tiny, ageing congregation cannot meet the building's needs.
The church - built in 1829 - can seat 600 people, but the average attendance at services is just 12.
The minister, the Rev John Mackerness, said: "In its heyday it was packed and had a busy Sunday school.
"Everyone is very sad."
The final services at the church were held on December 17.
A special concert with Hade Edge Band was held the day before to celebrate the church's 177 year history.
Proceeds from the event totalled £301 and have been given to children's charities Barnardo's and the NSPCC.
The church has been threatened with closure for the past 10 years.
Damp and dry rot have been affecting walls and pews and the roof is unsafe.
The state of the building is so bad that in recent months worshippers have had to gather in a side room for services.
Youth groups Deckhands and Pilots stopped using the church as their meeting place and its neglected condition attracted vandalism.
The church committee decided to close the church in November.
It will be handed over to the Yorkshire Congregational Trust for sale.
Mr Mackerness said he expected a third of the congregation to move to Ravensthorpe United Reformed Church.
He said a further third may worship at other churches in the area, but he expected the remaining worshippers would stop going to church altogether.
He added: "There are people who have spent their whole life at the church and have never been anywhere else.
"They love the building and are heartbroken. Others see it as a fresh start."
Some of the congregation are still hoping to save the church building.
It is a Grade II listed building, but some parishioners are campaigning for it to be upgraded to a Grade II* category to give it more protection from alterations.
Church secretary Barbara Harrison and treasurer Robert Cole have made the application to English Heritage.
If the listing status is upgraded the worshippers could apply to the Historic Chapels Trust to take the building over, giving them access to lottery grants which could pay for the repairs.
Mrs Harrison said: "We have an ageing and dwindling congregation and a lack of funds. There have been no younger people coming in to keep things going.
"It is shame we are having to close and we are really sorry. But we are still fighting."
The current building was created in 1829, but worship began in the area long before.
In the 1600s, worshippers met in cottages near the current church site before a meeting house was built in 1732 on Hopton Hall Lane.