Wigan church staff are standing defiant after a volunteer was held at knife point as vicious robbers stole funeral donations.
Ince Methodist Church was targeted by a man and woman on Monday morning after the female knocked on the door pretending to need the toilet.
The female victim, 45, was attacked at the Manchester Road church after opening the property for a toddler’s playgroup at around 10.30am.
As the volunteer set up the church for the session, a woman knocked on the door asking to use the toilet, to which she kindly obliged.
Josh Orme, property steward said: “The woman said there was no toilet paper so she had to open the vestry to get some.
“As she came out the lady was stood in the foyer with gloves on and a knife in her hand. She held it right up to her face.
“The woman’s partner stood outside and just watched it all unfold.
“She is very very shaken up. But she’s not going to let it stop her from helping her community.”
As the man then came and held the terrified her with the blade pointing at her throat, the woman ransacked the church vestry, taking hundreds of pounds worth of collections and equipment.
Congregational collections were taken as well as funeral funds, some of which included donations from a family whose loved one had recently died.
“We had two computers and two DVD players taken,” added Josh. “We had a break-in just after Christmas and the computers were donated to us from people who heard about what had happened.
“It’s really unnerving but in a way we are not that surprised. We are in a deprived area and we are serving people the best we can.
“We have a youth club with over 25 members, Sunday services and a friendship club for people who are elderly and lonely.
“We had a meeting after the mugging and said we are not going to let this affect us. We feel we are serving the community and this is part and parcel of that.
“We will try to help people as much as we can but they are taking from us what we are trying to do for them.”
Reverend Gill Sharp has offered pastoral support to any volunteers who feel affected by the incident, and has been helping the victim in the same way since Monday.