Hell on Earth? Failed musical venture loses village church millions

A failed venture into the world of musicals has led to a church in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire being forced into liquidation and dozens of members losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

According to the BBC, the International Church – formerly known as Bethel Church and Bethel Interdenominational Church – had planned a huge arena tour of a musical entitled Heaven on Earth, based on the story of Adam and Eve.

Tenor Russell Watson was due to take part in 'Heaven on Earth'.Wikipedia

Church leaders created Eden International Productions to put on the show and booked stars including Russell Watson and Kerry Ellis to take part.

The six-month tour was due to take place in venues in Cardiff and Nottingham as well as Wembley Arena. However, it collapsed owing £2.6 million. Some of the congregation had remortgaged their homes to help fund it, and the BBC estimates that 30 people in Mansfield Woodhouse are owed £500,000 between them.

Liquidators were appointed for the church itself last June and there is thought to be no possibility of investors and donors receiving their money back.

A former church member, Lindsey, told BBC Radio Nottingham: 'They thought it would be a God-given tool to win nations, to change the world.

'It's a lot when you're sat in your little church in Mansfield Woodhouse, you think it's a nice idea, something a little bit different but when you hear they want it to go worldwide you think, "that's a bit extreme".'

Another member, Audrey Beardal, 80, claimed she was asked to take out £3,000 of savings and was driven to a bank. She said: 'It was a massive, massive thing and now lots of people have had to sell their houses and move, it's very sad.'