TWO churches with more than 200 years of history are to merge congregations and move to a single place of worship.

Dozens of worshippers who regularly attend Darlington’s Grange Road Baptist Church and Corporation Road Baptist Church will form a combined church community in a “fresh invigoration of life”.

The Grange Road site will become Darlington Baptist Church, following years of talks between the two Christian parishes.

Details on the future of the Corporation Road building is yet to be revealed.

Minister for Grange Road Baptist Church, Reverend Rodney Breckon, said: “This is quite a momentous occasion for us because it signals a rationalisation of two Baptist churches in the town.

“In those early years, before the war, both were full of people and children and Darlington was a thriving town and the church very much represented that thriving community.

“Numbers in both churches had depleted considerably, so that’s what led to the idea of rationalising - do we need two large buildings?

“About two years ago, conversations began between the two churches. At that time, I wasn’t actually a minister, I was a moderator – an interim minister.

“I didn’t imagine that I would become the minister, but a proposal was put forward to me for two days a week, which I gladly accepted, and this has led on to the idea of merging together.”

Darlington Baptist Church formally opens on Friday, September 15, at 7.30pm, followed by an open day on September 16, between 10am and 1pm.

Mr Breckon, who served at Northallerton’s New Life Baptist Church for 36 years before coming to Darlington in 2015, added: “We have seen considerable growth over the last two years, so we would regularly have around 100 worshippers on a Sunday morning and 91 members formed the new group.

“It feels like the church has been reborn for a new generation.”