After nearly 70 years of service, Edenderry Memorial Methodist Church was looking and feeling tired – and needed updating to reflect modern worship and community needs. So the church members drew up plans for a significant renovation project, looking at everything from floors to ceilings and all points in between.
The refurbishment has completely transformed the church, leaving it better placed to serve the congregation and wider community in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, over the coming decades.
‘We’re committed to supporting local communities, especially those struggling at this time,’ said church member Jim Bloomer, who managed the project. ‘Covid-19 was difficult, and the cost of living crisis means things are getting worse.
‘Our church had become tired and its layout was no longer fit for purpose for a modern community-focused building.’
A new glazed screen and doors have been installed, leading visitors directly into the heart of the building and creating a more welcoming, accessible entrance. The old fixed pews have been replaced with movable and flexible seating, which can be configured to provide space for anything from small groups to events attended by 200 people. A new, state-of-the-art audio-visual system and an enlarged stage will allow for a wide variety of uses – and upgraded heating and electrics will ensure the church is warm and well-lit. Insulated ceilings and floors will cut the use of fossil fuels and improve the church’s environmental rating.
‘We now have a flexible space where we can worship as a church, but also engage more with our local community,’ said Mr Bloomer. ‘The new space will be able to support a range of activities, from small group work to large meetings, and is also perfect for hosting social events, small conferences and training events, concerts, or welcoming community groups. Groups like Cross Roads have recently started meeting in our church buildings twice a month, welcoming over 140 people for music, talks and fellowship.’
Much of the funding for the project was raised locally, with congregation members and friends of the church giving generously. The church also successfully approached a number of grant giving bodies including Benefact Trust, which supported the work with a grant of £39,000 from the Methodist Grants Programme.
‘The Trust was pleased to support this project through the Methodist Grants Programme, which aims to enhance the mission and ministry of the Methodist church,’ said Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Ireland at Benefact Trust.
‘It was clear that the church’s focus was as much about how the building could be used to support the congregation and wider community as about improving the facilities at the church. The upgraded facilities offer space that can be used flexibly supporting church growth, community engagement, and improved accessibility.’