Religion is a vital component of life for many people, but churches have a broader impact on communities than worship alone, as Kirkbymoorside Methodist Church demonstrates.
The church is one of several in the town and is well established at the heart of the community for both religious purposes and as a lynchpin of local society.
Like all groups gathering for any purpose, services were affected by the pandemic and although regular Sunday morning worship has returned to the church, it is taking time to re-establish other elements of the religious calendar.
Alternatives like the Tuesday Fellowship and Sunday evening Faith and Folk music-focused worship are returning, but are still in the process of building back to their pre-covid stature. The church also has Oasis coffee mornings every Tuesday, where visitors are welcome to drop in for a coffee, chat or to make use of a quiet space.
However, the church, which has been a fixture in Kirkbymoorside for more than two centuries, offers far more and is a hub that offers accommodation to many groups and societies, providing a familiar backdrop to many varied activities.
These range from the Women’s Institute to Rainbows and Brownies, a parent and toddler club and a slimming group, which met before restrictions were imposed.
But church members are also involved in the wider community and recently introduced a Community Fridge service, offering free food which would otherwise be likely to go to waste because of short sell-by dates.
That operates on the simple basis of allowing people to pick up food donated by local shops once a week, meaning it will be used rather than going to landfill.
The service is extremely popular and supplies provided by donors are usually quickly exhausted.
Kirkbymoorside Community Fridge was established in November 2020 and is part of the Ryedale Fridges Network.
No referrals are needed for those wishing to use it and in the time it has been operating more than 13 tonnes of food has been saved from going to landfill.
The church is also looking forwards to hosting a branch of the new Ryedale Foodbank.
The Rev Penny Worth said: “Another group is Next Steps, for people who are very lonely or have mental health issues.
“They meet up and do different activities; they may go for a walk, do craft type stuff or sit and have a chat.
“It is helping to get people back to seeing other people. We are very pleased to have them,” she said.
“We are a convenient building. It has been recently refurbished, has a lovely kitchen and lots of space. We share this with Churches Together in Kirkbymoorside for things like Lent lunches. We host things because we have the catering facilities.
“We are very keen to be hosting any sort of community and to be ‘that place’ where people can come and be welcomed.”