Arson attack damages Rochdale music venue The Risen Cellar

AN ARSON attack has caused extensive damage to popular Christian music venue The Risen Cellar situated in the basement of West Street Baptist Church in Rochdale. Concert organiser Dori Fidler sees the attack as the culmination of a year of hassles experienced by Christians in the area.

"On Wednesday evening a group from local Churches were praying for the Risen Cellar until 10pm, and felt strongly that the work should be continuing of nurturing new Christians in the area, as well as putting on concerts, speakers and praise and worship evenings. At 5am Pastor Peter Alexander was called out by the police. Fire Officers had hacked their way in, and said that in another ten minutes the whole building would have been destroyed."

Damage has been assessed at £20,000, but this is less than the real cost of the incident. The arsonists also broke into the church and set fire to church records held in the safe. A piano and drum kit has also been destroyed. But Dori Fidler, who became a Christian after seeing her daughter converted at a rock-gospel concert at the Church, is undaunted.

"We spent a hard weekend of scrubbing to get rid of the most of the smoke-damage, and we have emergency lighting and power on now. The building is only three years old. Phase two was due to start this week. But there's been a great spirit of unity within the fellowship and among other Christians. We can testify that God has provided in the past. The way the new building came about was miraculous. The fellowship is 216 years old, so...we're definitely going to go ahead with concerts already booked."

Dori maintains that following a year of outreach by Christians in Rochdale in 1989, including 24 hour readings from the Bible outside the Town Hall and a Jesus Festival in May, many fellowships have seen spiritual attack in terms of family life, marriages and serious illness.

She sees the attempt to burn down the Church as another aspect of the same strategy, one that will be equally unsuccessful. "Although we're all pretty exhausted by recent events, we are renewed and united by a bond of peace" says Dori. "There is a strong determination to stand firm in the faith." The Risen Cellar plans to open its doors again in time for a concert by Big White House on the second of June. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.