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Former Clogher pub is now full of Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Former Clogher pub is now full of Holy Spirit. thumbnail Bogues Pub Clogher.

THERE will soon be a very different spirit around Main Street in Clogher as a former pub is to be converted into a new church-run charity shop.

'Hope 4 U Foundation', which already owns the adjoining building, the former Courthouse, has purchased the former Bogue's Bar in the village.

And the purchase cost the new owners absolutely nothing.

The 'Hope 4 U Foundation' is a Christian charitable organistation formed five years ago with the aim of serving the community of the Clogher Valley.

The Courthouse is managed on a day to day basis by Len and Joyce Keys, who originate from the local area.

Len formerly had a career in banking, most recently based in Belfast and Dublin, and Joyce was a secretary in a local school. Both left their employment, and after Len completed two years theological training he was instrumental in setting up this charity.

Hope 4 U opened the renovated Courthouse in November 2013, incorporating a coffee stop serving tea/coffee, light lunches and home-baked style food in the original courtroom.

Other services include free food for families in times of crisis, as well as pastoral care and counselling for those struggling with life issues - depression, grief, addictions, relationship problems and more. They also host an ongoing programme of free courses for anyone wishing to explore what they describe as 'real' Christianity and its relevance to life in the 21st century.

Speaking to the Courier, Len explained that since Hope 4 U just about breaks even thanks to generous donations, purchasing additional premises wouldn't have been feasible by any business evaluation.

Nevertheless, when the pub next door came on the market last year they felt prompted to arrange a viewing even though they didn't have the funds.

He said that on the morning of the viewing he prayed that if God didn't want Hope 4 U to have these premises He would take away any appeal the property might have as they looked around.

Instead of that happening, Len's reading in the Bible that morning said "...look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart on all that I will show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you..." Having viewed the premises they felt it could be used to greatly complement the work of Hope 4 U, but as a group of trustees they decided to not take it any further at that stage as it would necessitate significant borrowing.

Len contacted the agent and informed him they weren't submitting an offer at that stage as they didn't have the funds, but if God wanted them to have the premises, He would provide the funds.

About six months later, Len received an unsolicited phone call from someone who isn't local, but was aware of the pub being for sale and is sympathetic to the work Hope 4 U seek to do.

They said: "If you believe God wants you to use this building you go ahead and buy it, and when the time comes to pay for it, let me know." Not only did the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, pay the full purchase price for the property, they also donated extra funds to cover the conveyancing costs.

The sale is now complete and plans are already underway as to how the two adjacent buildings can be integrated in the most practical and cost effective manner.

The trustees plan to utilise at least some of the space to provide additional seating for food service 'on the level' as a good proportion of the seats in the original courtroom are tiered and not suitable for use for customers with limited mobility or parents with buggies.

The trustees are excited about what else God has planned for the new building. They acknowledge that not everyone will understand the story of how the pub was acquired, or be willing to attribute it to God, but irrespective of that they've said: "We know that God provided the funds miraculously and we 've seen him change lives already through the work of Hope 4 U, so we look forward to the future with confidence.

"Contrary to popular public opinion - God is NOT dead and He is at work in the Clogher Valley."

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