A church in York is putting its money where its mouth is - by rejecting lottery funding for its rebuilding work.

St Michael le Belfrey, next to York Minster, is raising money for a major restoration of its west front. But the church council has decided not to seek money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, because the fund promotes gambling.

The church needs about £500,000 and says it is relying on its congregation to raise the money, without the need for lottery grants.

The Rev Roger Simpson, vicar of St Michael's, said: "The lottery itself is basically wrong, so to accept money from something that is in itself wrong would be to support something we do not believe in. Such funding would compromise the consistency of our mission and values."

Church treasurer Paul Millard said it had been indicated they could have received up to half the money they need for the restoration, due to the nature of the project and the building.

St Michael's is a listed building and was the last church built in York before the reformation. Guy Fawkes was baptised there in 1570. The church almost closed in the early 1970s, but has enjoyed a massive revival and now has a congregation of about 800.

The lottery issue was debated at a recent Parochial Church Council meeting, and an overwhelming majority voted against going for funding.

Mr Simpson said: "We had a lively debate. We looked at various arguments in favour of receiving lottery funding and against it."

He said it had been argued lottery funding would open doors to other funding; that lottery money was not the only Government money tainted by moral concerns; and that while church members should pay for ministry, it was acceptable to use Government money for the buildings.

But the arguments against outweighed those in favour. He said: "The thing that convinced me was the question: how can we accept money from the lottery fund when we do not agree with gambling?"

Mr Millard said: "We are relying upon God and the congregation and the people of York, as we are looking at up to £500,000 for this project. We are still waiting on the final amount it will cost us. There are hints it could be less than £500,000, which is encouraging. There will be a committee to discuss how we start the process of fundraising and the church will have to start giving."

The church is looking to raise more than it needs for the west front restoration, as it also wants to aid projects abroad, possibly in Bethlehem or Brazil.