Mansfield Woodhouse churchgoers owed thousands after religious musical goes bust

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Dozens of Mansfield Woodhouse residents lost an estimated total of £500,000 after a religious musical went bust.

Members of the controversial International Church were left out of pocket after the musical Heaven on Earth collapsed with debts of £2.6 million.

The production which was supposed to tour arenas and attracted stars such as Tenor Russel Watson and actress Kerry Ellis was just weeks from being staged when it ran out of money.

Another former church member, an 80 year old Mansfield Woodhouse resident who did not want to be named said she was driven to the bank by a female member of the church and was asked to take out £3,000 savings.

She said: “I was contacted on the Friday for money .

“On the following Saturday I was contacted again to say it had gone bankrupt.

“I was taken to the bank by a young lady and we were both wanting to do God’s will. It wasn’t about the money -I was a Christian and I thought it was about doing good. It has been a learning curve for me.

“We all thought it was doing well. We were told every week that the musical was doing well - it was a complete shock to everybody. We were told not to share things like this with everybody. I feel guilty sharing it even now.

“We never saw it as a religion it was a way of life.”

Eden International Productions was set up by some of the leaders at the church to put on the show.

The musical kept growing in scale and ended up booked to go on a six-month tour through 2018 at venues across the country, including Wembley Arena and the Motorpoint arenas in Nottingham and Cardiff. The show ran out of money in late 2017.

Former church member Martin Farmilo told your Chad: “The liquidator’s report for Eden International Productions Ltd (the production company for the Heaven On Earth tour) lists the investors, many of them people I remember from the church.

“Obviously none of this in itself proves any criminal activity, but I do hear on the grapevine that a number of people have been a little irate at losing such amounts, and I have heard a few have complained that they felt ‘pressured’ into giving. But I myself cheerfully gave them well over £20,000 in the 17 years I was there, so I know something of what it feels like.”

The story is the subject of a BBC documentary on BBC Inside Out East Midlands tonight (Monday January 14) at 7.30pm on BBC One.

More when we have it.