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New lease of life for Crowthorne Baptist Church

New start: The Revd Kevin Mills and Sue Burrow outside the revamped Crowthorne Baptist Church, which they hope will be a much-used hub for the community when the pandemic ends Picture: Phil Creighton

A CHURCH can’t wait for the pandemic to end so it can welcome the community into its new buildings.

During lockdown, Crowthorne Baptist Church, on the village’s High Street, has revamped its premises creating a more modernised space which it hopes will benefit the wider community.

The church’s New Heart project, which began last year, is now putting the finishing touches on the revamped buildings, ready for when it can re-open its doors to the public again.

With two main rooms, a new entrance porch, a new spacious kitchen, updated toilets, full disabled access and added storage space, the church refurbishment aims to make a more versatile space.

One auditorium, called The Heart, is a new extension and will be used by the church for Sunday services, can seat 144 people and has full AV facilities so community groups can also make use of it.

Another room, The Hub, was previously the church’s sanctuary, and can be used by community groups and after school clubs.

It’s not the only change to the church during the past year: the Revd Kevin Mills, joined in October last year.

He said: “The space is neutral and very open, people are more likely to come into that kind of space.

“I think because of the way that we’ve laid it out, it allows people to use it in multiple ways as well as it being a big enough space to feel part of something, and not large enough to be lost in something.”

With the pandemic preventing the congregation from meeting together in person, Mr Mills says he is looking forward to when the church can reopen, once covid restrictions are fully lifted. Until then, services are online.

Mr Mills said he has been “welcomed” into the church community in Crowthorne.

He added: “The support I’ve had from people has been amazing, the older generation have even embraced using Zoom and YouTube so they have still been able to be part of the congregation, which is lovely to see.”

Church member Sue Burrow, who has been steering the New Heart project, said: “It’s amazing and I can’t believe that we’ve actually got to this point where it is nearly finished, and then we can get back in and start the real work … the building is just the beginning really.

“The important thing is what we can do as a church. We’re trying to work out how to do church differently, how to be relevant in today’s society and what worship is going to be like after the pandemic. It’s just the beginning of a very long journey – it’s exciting.”

She added that the work has caused a flux of interest from the village.

“It’s all very exciting and it’s lovely to see how many people in the community are interested in what’s going on.

“We’ve had lots of questions, Kevin’s engaged with lots of people as they walk up and down the high street, so this is really is the beginning of a new phase and we’re incredibly excited and privileged to be part of it.”

Supported by Laing Family Trust, All Churches and the Baptist Union, Crowthorne Baptist Church says it has been able to help fund the project in order, but welcomes donations to cover the loan repayments.

For more information, visit crowthornebaptist.org.uk

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