A MERGER between two Bournemouth churches has provided one partner with new premises and helped save the other from closure.

The merger came about as Lansdowne Church prepared to turn over its home of 139 years to the demolition squad.

The church – formerly Lansdowne Baptist Church – has found a new base for the next 18 months in a partnership with Strouden Park Chapel.

Lansdowne Church found itself looking last year for a temporary home that it could use while its new £3million premises was built on the existing site.

Strouden Park Chapel was facing closure at the same time and its leaders asked the churches of Bournemouth for help.

The two churches agreed to a merger, with Lansdowne setting up its new HQ at Strouden Park.

Peter Baker, senior minister at Lansdowne Church, said: “This is a merger not a takeover, like the best marriages.

“In days of apparent church decline, here’s a story of growth

It was agreed that Lansdowne Church would create two Sunday morning services to house most of its 500-strong morning congregation.

The rest would meet in a university building at Lansdowne.

On the first Sunday of the month, all the congregations would gather together in one service at the Bishop of Winchester Academy.

Both churches embraced the marriage and a new name was given to Strouden – Lansdowne Church, Woodbury Avenue.

The aim is to leave a vibrant congregation at Strouden Park when new church is finished at Lansdowne.

Woodbury Avenue could be the first of a number of mergers as part of a plan to revitalise and renew churches in decline and create new ones.

Mr Baker said: “We’re on a journey and this partnership has turned out to be an unexpected stage of it.”