HUNDREDS of parishioners and dignitaries packed out St Michael’s Church to celebrate the consecration of the new £420,000 building.

The pews were full to bursting as more than 200 people seized the rare opportunity to watch the new church, in St Michael’s Road, Daws Heath, be sanctified by the honourable Bishop of Bradwell.

Clergymen past and present, councillors and churchgoers watched as the venerable John Wraw blessed everything from the church doors to the alter and chalices, before joining in a service of prayer and hymns.

Reverend Marian Sturrock said: “I am absolutely over the moon with the beautiful new building. It’s not very often a congregation gets a lovely new church like this so we are extremely grateful and pleased to worship here.

“It was a lovely service and I would like to thank everyone for coming along to help us celebrate.”

The new building, which also includes a new community hall, was constructed of 150-year-old timber logs especially imported from Finland.

The congregation spent two years raising the cash to demolish and rebuild their old building after it fell into disrepair.

The rotten timber Army Hut, which dated back to the First World War, had lasted more than 80 years longer than expected but was demolished in April.

Castle Point mayor Peter Burch, who attended the ceremony, said: “There were so many people there they needed to bring in extra chairs. It was lovely to see so much support, and it was a very enjoyable, very interesting ceremony to watch.

“The new building is very well designed and well built, and I am sure it will serve the community well, hopefully for generations to come.”

The congregation will be also holding a special service of thanks and prayers for everyone who was unable to attend the consecration this Saturday at 4pm.