A CROWTHORNE church held a special celebration service to mark the completion of a building project.
On Sunday, the Baptist Church welcomed special guests, including the architects, to the formal opening of its new base in the High Street.
The guest preacher was the Revd Lynn Green, the general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain – the denomination’s equivalent to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The service was introduced by Sue Burrow, who had helped steer the New Heart project to fruition, giving a potted history of the church and its buildings since its formation in 1914, when a group of Baptist Christians met in a hired hall. Four years later they bought the plot of land on the High Street and moved a chapel from Calcot.
Mrs Burrow said it was transported by men, engines and trollies before it was rebuilt on site.
A hall was then built to the church in 1933, before a new chapel was erected in 1953. A dedication service was held on May 22, 1954.
A new hall was built in 1964, and in 1987 the church updated its foyer.
The first plans for a new building were presented to Bracknell Forest Borough Council in 1992, but were refused. A different scheme was given approval in 2013, but it was a fourth scheme, approved in 2019, that has been constructed. It includes moving the church sanctuary – where Sunday services are held – to the rear of the complex, and creating new meeting and community rooms.
Work started on the build in February 2020, and had been expected to take 11 months. The completion date was moved back due to covid.
“In no time at all, we have our beautiful new building,” Mrs Burrow said.
The church’s minister, the Revd Kevin Mills, led the prayers of dedication, inviting the congregation to stand. His prayer includes: “We acknowledge it has been a long, hard, bumpy road to get to this point… Lord you have kept your promises and you have been faithful. We thank and praise you.”
In her address, Mrs Green said it was “a huge privilege” to be invited to speak at the service.
“Today we see the fruit of the vision, it has been a long journey together,” she said. “This is a well-deserved moment to stop and give thanks.
“It is a beautiful space to come and encounter God.”
She added that this was a threshold moment for the church as they sought their vision of being at the heart of Crowthorne’s community.
After the service, a cake was cut on the steps of the church and refreshments were served.