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Source : 07/07/2000 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

The Jesus Fellowship adopts its base in the centre of Northampton.

The religious sect has had a long battle to secure the art deco venue, but religious leaders have entered the final stages of talks with architects to decide on the exact designs.

The Canon Cinema will provide a central location for the organisation's evangelical outreach group, the Jesus Army.

The multi-coloured double-decker busses of the Jesus Army have been a regular sight in Abington Street during weekends, as members attempt to talk to passing shoppers.

The fleet of minibuses and double-deckers have provided a very visible presence for sect members who have travelled across Britain to attend hundreds of religious festivals.

But with the purchase of the Cannon cinema, worship will now be held in the heart of the town.

The Jesus Fellowship managed to snap up the former cinema in March this year, taking on a 99-year lease, 10 months after the Chronicle & Echo first revealed the sect had plans to turn it into a base for evangelical services.

Elders had faced stiff opposition from borough councillors, who had rejected planning permission amid fears over the traffic which religious services would attract.

But in January, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott overturned the decision after the Jesus Fellowship launched an appeal.

The multi-million-pound conversion of the grade two listed building is expected to be completed within 12 months.