While our church building refurbishment is ongoing the church is only open for:

  • Prayer on Wednesdays @ 10:00 – 12:00;
  • Worship on Sundays @ 11:00 – 12:30;
  • Sunday Club and Inspire (Youth Fellowship) on Sundays @ 11:00 – 14:30;
  • Rock Solid (Youth Club) on Thursdays @ 17:00 – 19:30

Church Building Refurbishment Began on 7 June 2021

Our church building refurbishment is ongoing since 7 June 2021. In this first phase our kitchen and toilet facilities are redone. Entry to the halls will be made more simple, and the hall doors will be replaced with fire safety doors.

From Monday, 7 June our halls, but mainly the corridor leading to the toilets and the kitchen, and the toilets and kitchen themselves will be a building site. No-one unauthorised should be entering that work zone!

The toilet and baby changing facility at the Prayer Room and the toilet at the vestry will be available for use. Temporarily tea and coffee will be prepared in the vestry area, while the work is going on.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

Building Work Update 20 June 2021
Building Work Update 14 July 2021
Building Work Update 11 August 2021
Building Work Update 1 September 2021
Building Work Update 22 September 2021
Building Work Update 14 October 2021
Building Work Update 4 November 2021
Building Work Update 1 December 2021
Building Work Update 1 July 2021
Building Work Update 27 July 2021
Building Work Update 18 August 2021
Building Work Update 8 September 2021
Building Work Update 29 September 2021
Building Work Update 21 October 2021
Building Work Update 17 November 2021
Building Work Update 8 July 2021
Building Work Update 4 August 2021
Building Work Update 25 August 2021
Building Work Update 15 September 2021
Building Work Update 6 October 2021
Building Work Update 29 October 2021
Building Work Update 24 November 2021

Building Work Update 20 June 2021

photo by Timothy Pitt

A brief update on where we are ‘at’ about the Church Building Works.

The accompanying photo was taken on Sunday 20th June. Welcome to the old kitchen and the toilets – now pile of rubble and some full refuse bags, neatly lined up. The kitchen is gone.  The toilets have gone. In their place, we will have new kitchen, toilets and corridor – slightly re-shaped to give more space.

The electrics panel is also on its way out – it is being relocated to the West Transept. In fact, the new electrics cabinet has been installed and the external cable laid in the trench alongside and under the path outside.

By the time this article is published, the electrics should have been switched over, although I think we will have the screen fencing at the West Transept for a further week yet.

But then we can start to normalise the West Transept. The pews were mounted on a sloping floor. We aim to level the floor so that we can place the free-standing comfortable chairs in there. We aim to ‘slap through’ the north wall of the West Transept, into the prayer room – which is going to be an entrance way with new church office.

We are currently re-jigging the works and their phasings. This means we need a big push on funding and prayer. Funding so we can do the works – the initial phasing was pretty much an arbitrary “we’ve got this much money, we can do that much work” which enabled us to hold the Contractor to the pricing in their quote, to obtain Presbytery’s permission to carry out the works and to undertake the works despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19 restrictions. And prayer so we can do the works – we only want to do that which God calls and invites us to do:

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

Those of who have started coming back to church are amazing – seeing the building works and seeing that the works are not a big distraction, and that they are progressing.

As a Church Family, you have been amazing in how much money has been raised so far. Also, we have several grant applications submitted and we await responses. More money soon means we can look to lock in phase 2 as costed, and achieve efficiencies by completing works as one item, not having to do a temporary completion followed by unpicking to deal with consequential works under a separate phase.

It is dusty. It is inconvenient. But it is exciting. And it is getting there. So please keep on praying and please give as much as you can.

When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the Lord—the carpenters and builders, the masons and stonecutters. They purchased timber and blocks of dressed stone for the repair of the temple of the Lord, and met all the other expenses of restoring the temple. (2 Kings 12:11-12)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 1 July 2021

Corridor, toilets and kitchen under work [photo by Timothy Pitt]
The new electrics Cabinet [photo by Timothy Pitt]

Another week, another update.

The photographs may not appear to show much of a change from last week, but a fair bit has been happened.

The main photograph shows another view similar to last week. Yes, the rubble has gone and the refuse bags have gone. However, you can see the line (a straight, shallow trench) of the original walls dividing the toilets and the corridor. And you can see the wooden markers showing where the new walls will be. The toilet configuration is being changed from the original, and this small enlargement to the width of the corridor will be a noticeable difference.

Similarly, down at the far end the kitchen wall will be slightly realigned and this will provide more room and a natural ‘flow’ to the layout.

There was a bit of further work on the ceiling where the supporting walls and joists had been. As you will see, the green metal bracing poles have gone, as the ceiling is once more capable of supporting its own weight.

A significant focus for this past week, however, has been the ‘going live’ of the electrics cabinet. The second photo shows the new cabinet in the West Transept, although it will have an external cover built to match the surroundings – we kept back a couple of pews to provide wood with the ‘right’ shade of varnish. The external cable was dug under the path and last week we had the grand ‘switch over.’ Whilst everything is carefully designed and controlled, it must have been a pleasant scene straight afterwards, when it was realised that there was no smoke, no flame … and that all the lights had come back on!

Whilst these updates concern the Church works, the manse kitchen works have progressed well, despite the hiccup with the damp and the choked pipes. The pipes were jet-cleaned, which actually revealed that they were not choked and that the source of the damp was the brick wall without a damp-proof membrane. A membrane has been installed and the wall-plaster applied. At the time of writing, it is thought that George and Emma will come back to a useable kitchen, albeit that the redecoration will not have been completed.

Back in the church, we aim to have the internal fence removed and to make the West Transept serviceable just as soon as possible, but there is a fair bit of work in this area of the church to be completed first.

Please continue to pray for the project and all who work on it. Please continue to give what you can – we are so keen to complete the whole Building Project as soon as possible. It takes money. We want to make our church (and manse) fit for purpose in the current age; to provide a peaceful place to worship God.

‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty. (Haggai 2:9)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 8 July 2021

[photo by Timothy Pitt]
[photo by Timothy Pitt]

Build build, hammer hammer!

The first photo shows the now-standard view down the kitchen corridor and now we can see the stud partition walls going up for each toilet cubicle. There will be four separate toilet cubicles, one of which will be disabled access.

As commented on before, the small gain in the width of the corridor will actually be quite noticeable when completed, and the corridor should feel both roomier and lighter when completed.

The second photo shows one of the hidden aspects: Behind some panelling in the original ladies’ toilets there had been the original external wall set back from the main hall, and with a brick wall then connected and running off at an angle. My interior designer mind can just picture a corner shelving unit being built into that but, in reality, it is going to be boarded over with a new panel, so the sight will soon disappear. I showed the photo to Joan before the service, and she wondered about installing some old artefacts into the gap which could be boarded up, ready to be rediscovered many years hence. For some reason, my mind wandered instinctively to our minister …

Next week, the Contractor has some big jobs to do, including structural work at the entrance to the halls and also some drainage holes to be dug, fire alarm cabling to be installed and some initial painting. Therefore, we will be ensuring that we separate the contractor walkways from where anyone in the church family may walk. This means that we will no longer have one intrepid soul opening up the sanctuary by using the hall door to get in and walking through to unbolt the Tower Room door. Instead, we will have a temporary lock installed in the Tower Room door which will become the entrance for everyone. It is anticipated that this arrangement will continue until the end of August, but if we can open up before then, we certainly shall!

The last word this week should be in noting the Contractor going above and beyond. As you know, the pews have been removed from the West Transept to enable the electrics panel to be installed and in preparation of the new door, with the church office being moved to a public-facing side location where the Prayer Room is currently located. The Contractor kept back four pews to make a cover for the electric panel that matches the décor of the Sanctuary, and we donated the remaining pews to the Grassmarket Project which recycles and upcycles the timber. The Grassmarket Project were marvellous and took away the pews, but were unable to move the ‘scrap’ – the backing slats and other aspects of the pews that they could not use. I turned up early at church on the Sunday to cart the scrap to the skip, only to find that the Contractor team had moved it all and swept the hall floor. They did not have to, but I hope their kind gesture helps show us all how they are ‘on-side’ with us. Please continue to pray for each member of that team; thanksgiving as well as intercession! And as we seek to raise all the money (please help!), and pray for the Contractor team, throughout it all, we offer honour and praise to God in and through this whole project.

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. (Hebrews 3:4)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 14 July 2021

electrics panel (west transept) [photo by Timothy Pitt]
pathway construction [photo by Timothy Pitt]

This week we have been establishing our new pathways.

As you know, the kitchen corridor area is completely out of bounds (even to investigative photographers!) with the Contractors removing some asbestos. It was registered, monitored and safe left alone, but stripping out the kitchen produced a risk of opening a pathway for the asbestos so … dust sheets and respirators to the fore, and out it comes. The green safety flag can be raised, but now that we have a two-way lock installed in the Tower Room door, there is really no need for us to use the old Side Door during the rebuilding works and we will stick with the Tower Room. If only the Tower Room had actually been built as originally intended (complete with church bell), then visitors could have announced themselves in style! However, all this means that we cannot see the current state of the internals including entrance way structural work, drainage holes and fire alarm cabling, all of which must remain for a later report.

But there is much going on elsewhere: planning aplenty and more pathways laid out.

The West Transept photograph shows the electrics panel cabinet with four pathways. The electrics panel itself was connected to the mains a couple of weeks ago with larger trunking cable (pathway number 1) which allowed the power to be routed through, so the Contractors could continue operating their equipment whilst the old panel was disconnected and removed. You can see reels of assorted cable; ready to be used for the permanent electric connections throughout the church. It will be laid under the floorboards (pathway number 2). In the foreground you can see some of the pews that were kept back. They are lined up and pointing (pathway number 3) to the cabinet, the plan being that they will be crafted into a cabinet cover in full sympathy with the original ‘furnishings.’ The fourth pathway has still to be revealed but is there all the same: when we have the new access and office (where the Prayer Room is currently located), this will form a pathway into the Sanctuary. With some of the comfortable seats laid out there, some of us may never get beyond the West Transept before claiming our permanent place at church! Please contribute financially where you can for this further work.

The other photograph shows external planning and pathways. The electrics mains connection is underneath our original pathway, and the slabs have been stacked to the side, ready for their planned replacement and the renewal of the path.

I have lost count of the number of times the skip has been emptied and refilled (actually, the entire skip is lifted over the and slung straight onto the back of a lorry, to be replaced by a fresh one). I’m rather glad I have never been there when the skip exchange happens, as it will be an ‘adrenalin rush’ moment to see the heavy skip being swung over the railings. As with an Olympic high jumper, ‘easily clearing’ the bar and ‘just clearing’ it are both fine; but knocking the bar would have certain consequences that we do not wish to contemplate!

Our supporting Scripture verse comes from the New American Standard Bible version:

Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. (Proverbs 4:26)

[from Timothy Pitt]

Ps. We apologise in advance that next week there will be no report on the building work, as our faithful reporter (Tim) and his family will be on a well deserved holiday. Wishing them all a good rest and blessed time together.


Building Work Update 27 July 2021

1. Inner Door
2. Inner Corridor
3. Kitchen Window

Flocks, herds and owls!

That could describe some of the great sights in the countryside whilst my family and I enjoyed a week away in the Borders, or it could be a bit more Biblical than that.

So what’s happened in the last couple of weeks and what are we looking at now? 

First of all, the safety: the asbestos has been removed and all is well. You will recall that whilst the asbestos behind the tiles was undisturbed, it was fine just to monitor it, but the works had the potential to poke a large stick in that particular wasps’ byke (if I am not straining an analogy too far). It has been removed and all has been made safe.

Looking at the first photograph, you will see that the inner door has been removed as has the inner wall (into which the old electrics cabinet had been built). This has opened up the previously labyrinthian access as you come into the church, so there is no longer any need to unwind a ball of thread when heading towards the kitchen.

The second photograph takes us along the toilet corridor, in the direction of the kitchen and again you will see not only how wide we have been able to make the corridor but also how bright and light it is. OK, the latter may have something to do with the fantastic sunny weather of late, but we will still claim it as a victory for the architectural design!

And our final photograph this week shows the kitchen literally taking shape, for we now actually have right-angled walls as well as improved brightness courtesy of the light bouncing deep into the room from the arched window, without any awkward angles to navigate round. The overhead wooden beams will, however, be covered up – I think our minister would be the only one tall enough to store secret supplies of biscuits up there, and we don’t want to encourage him.

Overall, you will see a fair bit of the electric wires, now embedded in the walls and poking out where we will have sockets and switches and so on.

There remains a lot to do, both in this part of the building and with regard to the overall works. We need money to be able to complete the work, so please consider how you can support the project.

Flocks and herds will lie down there,
creatures of every kind.
The desert owl and the screech owl
will roost on her columns.
Their hooting will echo through the windows,
rubble will fill the doorways,
the beams of cedar will be exposed. (Zephaniah 2:14)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 4 August 2021

Pathway (photo taken by Timothy Pitt, used with permission)
Corridor (photo taken by Timothy Pitt, used with permission)

We are coming to the midpoint of this first part of the Building Works now. You know the time: that annoying point where you are not entirely convinced that there is further progress being made, whereas in reality this is the time when the overall project is actually shooting forwards.

It is not as dramatic as those first few giddy days of smashing down walls and seeing piles of rubble. It is not as satisfying as seeing coats of glossy paint reflecting on shiny worktops and calling out to you “I am new; I am fresh!”

But we have the deep and steady progress of a job that is well underway. It is now a job where you can see aspects of what the final picture will look like. It is a job where you can sense that it is worth doing, but in order to do it well, we require that last push for funds. Please pray when you can. Please give what you can.

Our standard “what’s along the corridor?” photograph shows that the plasterboard is nearly all in place at the toilet cubicles. The long thin trench in the corridor (showing where the foundations of the previous internal wall used to be) will be filled in and levelled, revealing a straight and true line to the kitchen. Soon the builders will have released each cubicle for the toilet furniture to be installed and plumbed in, the doors to be installed and – yes – the painting to begin. When the joiner has completed this aspect and handed over to the painter, he can focus on the West Transept and the electrics panel box cover. 

Uncovering the ceiling void as part of the work to the walls has yielded some benefits. The builders have been able to assess the levels of insulation which will help our heating bill and our environmental stewardship obligations. The access to the ceiling void has also, finally, allowed us to identify some holes in the roof which have evaded prying eyes for so long due to their sheer inaccessibility.

Meantime, the church grounds have shown some general tidying and improvement. With the old mains cable having been lifted from beneath the pathway, the specific slabs have not just been returned, but the whole path has been levelled and upgraded.

The smooth, wide path and the success of our tea and coffee fellowship time in the church gardens after Sunday worship is leading us to look at whether a couple of well-placed slabs can create a clear but unobtrusive serving point for our refreshments trolley for so long as the weather allows. For those who join worship online, hopefully you both benefit from and help others by the fellowship in the breakout rooms. Those who come to church are finding a wonderful togetherness – available to all – in the great drinks, tasty treats  and wonderful conversation; so good just to ’be’ with each other. Importantly, we are seeing a number of passers-by who are starting to notice the presence of God’s people right on their own doorstep; who can see the pathway to the House of God is easy to approach and is … well … just part of normal life.

You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way. (2 Samuel 22:37)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 11 August 2021

Kitchen access (photo taken by Timothy Pitt, used with permission)
Corridor (photo taken by Timothy Pitt, used with permission)

Corridors, doorways and lightwells!

The Building Works continue to progress, and the visual evidence of this progress is becoming easier to see and more compelling in nature. But most of that is for a future article.

Huh?

Well, this is simply because most of that compelling evidence is seen in what has happened to the old plumbing and the excavations to remove the same. The old plumbing has been removed and the excavation trench filled in and cemented over. The new basic pipework  has been installed and the cement is now drying out nicely. And that is all for another article because just as you can’t hurry love, so you can’t hurry drying cement. It needs to be left to dry in its own time to ensure it retains its strength and integrity.

So we could look at some photos of dark rectangles of cement on the floor (even more exciting than watching paint dry) … or we could have another of our now traditional ‘corridor photos.’

So, looking at the corridor photo, aside from a couple of those exciting dark marks of drying cement, you can see three doorframes lined up along the left. These are three of the cubicles – you cannot see the fourth (wheelchair accessible) from this angle, but it is just beyond that line of three.

The photo reveals one more intriguing change. It is more a case of what is not there: at the far end of the corridor, there is not a kitchen door! Happily, we can avoid having to scramble through the serving hatch to get into the kitchen because we have simply moved the kitchen doorway closer to the outside doors. 

The new kitchen doorway can be seen on the left hand side in the second photo. The doorway is just a step or two further away from the original doorway which was right next to the hall entrance, but the realigned corridor walls and doorways have allowed the natural light to be harnessed in more efficiently. The repositioning and realignment of the kitchen door has also created more space inside the kitchen beside the serving hatch. Perhaps most important of all, the new doorway location will ensure there is less of a bottleneck at the ‘three-way junction’ of the access points to the kitchen, the hall and the toilets.

Now, funds are tight, so PLEASE give what you can and pray for the rest (and we really mean it on both counts!). We are making every effort to maintain economy and affordability. We are not Solomon and do not have his wealth but we trust in God and look to make the necessary improvements even if they are not on a scale with Solomon.

He overlaid the ceiling beams, door-frames, walls and doors of the temple with gold, and he carved cherubim on the walls. (2 Chronicles 3:7)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 18 August 2021

Doorway 18 August 2021, photo by Timothy Pitt, used with permission
Corridor 18 August 2021, photo by Timothy Pitt, used with permission

This week, we reflect on consequences, with reference to opening doorways and widening passageways.

If we had done nothing we would have continued with a non-compliant building which we were able to use because it was compliant at the time it was built – albeit not fit for purpose for us today. (This non-compliant use has been subject to the Local Authority granting continued exemptions, such as no disabled access toilet, corridors too narrow, environmental health kitchen concerns, number of toilets for the overall building capacity and so on.)

So, starting with relocating the Mains Electrics Panel to the West Transept, we can follow a trail of consequential improvements which make us compliant with current law, regulations and guidance. Moving that panel allowed the inner wall to be removed and the side entrance to be opened up. And this, in turn, means:

  • There is straightforward access into the church building, without having to navigate the heavy glass door;
  • There is an easier access round to the toilet corridor and the kitchen, without the sharp turns, tight corners and inner doors – so much more space to move and so much more accessible for all;
  • There is better access to the cleaner’s cupboard – both in terms of the light and also in terms of the space to move equipment in and out; and
  • The whole area is so much brighter. We will still require artificial lighting, but a little intense. Designed into our refurbishment plans, this is the sort of step that our All Things Eco group encourages and supports as we continue to gather momentum in not just keeping environmental matters to the fore of our thoughts, but actually taking action.

Our standard corridor photo shows the cleaner, straighter lines of the refurbishment and realignment, and with the skirting now in place. Soon the corridor will be ready for painting whilst the plumbing furniture is installed in each cubicle. There remains the small matter of the light fixtures and fittings, but they will come.

At the start of the project, there was an immediate impact with the evidence of much busy-ness; much activity. As was noted, things seemed to go a bit slower in the middle of the project as there was less evidence of a final deliverable. In short, one pile of rubble and materials looked pretty much like any other pile of rubble and materials. Strengthening of walls is (with apologies to the architects and structural engineers amongst us) not hugely exciting or eye-catching and is soon both covered up from view and removed from thought, becoming just part of the work that was carried out.

But we are left with well-built walls and corridors that are compliant in terms not just of current social concerns but of current legislation: health and safety requirements, disability access, planning, environmental consideration and, yes, climate concerns. We have dealt with the restricting walls and allowed so much more to open up.

He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. (Ezekiel 8:8)

[from Timothy Pitt]

Tagging onto the tail of Tim’s account, here are a few images of the recently finished manse kitchen. The kitchen is brighter, fresher, more functional and feels warmer and drier already.

I’m afraid we did not keep a photo diary of the kitchen work, so you can see only the finished product. The walls were damp, they were treated and freshly decorated. New units were installed as the old ones began to fall apart and dampness was damaging them, especially around the sink. The floor was evened out and new flooring put down, making a usually cold kitchen and floor a bit cosier. The old cooker has been serving the manse families faithfully for many years. However that usage got the best out of it, and repairing was not an option, so it was replaced. The same thing was true for the old dishwasher too. The fridge, washing machine, and freezer are unchanged, they still have many more years in them. The units are taller than usual, offering more storage space, and more shelves were put up on the walls too. So the kitchen feels brighter, drier, warmer, and more spacious. It is great to be able to use it.


Building Work Update 25 August 2021

Kitchen, 25 August 2021, photo by Timothy Pitt, used with permission
Toilet, 25 August 2021, photo by Timothy Pitt, used with permission

Waterworks, heating systems and kitchen this week.

There has been an emphasis on the big picture aspects this past week. Those in church on Sunday may have noticed that the gardens are a lot tidier, and the safety fence has been pushed back just a little. Beyond the fence, the inquisitive viewer will have seen a veritable transformation of the pathway, for the whole extent has been levelled and re-laid. We do seem to have settled on a comfortable area of the church gardens for our fellowship and coffee after the service, but we might even want to look at spreading down the path and taking advantage of the level flagstones. It will even be slightly annoying when we head into the colder months and have to move coffee and fellowship inside – I think everyone has really enjoyed what started off as an enforced location, and we have seen many benefits, not least in simply taking a step out towards the wider community, and helping to extend the invitation to them to come and see.

But you were promised waterworks and heating systems, and so we come to our first photograph. It is just an early indication of the gathering pace of progress. Here we have one of the new toilet cubicles, with the first toilet furniture having been placed ready to be plumbed in. The cement at the back wall has all dried and the Builders are ready to complete this installation. Excitingly (given we were discussing colder months in the last paragraph), you will see the novel thing called a ‘radiator’ that has been installed. Just think – warm toilet facilities in mid-winter! (And more efficient to heat each cubicle rather than have to draw heat from a large run of pipes that simply wends its way round the entirety of the church building complex.)

Continuing with the new installation theme, our second photograph shows how the kitchen is really coming along. New units are installed all the way round, and soon we will have the heavy units – cooker, fridge and dish washer – fitted, plumbed and wired in. Until such time as the kitchen is functional and the Covid-19 levels allow, we continue to be very appreciative of those who are able to bring their own re-usable cups to church for fellowship and coffee. Of course, you don’t actually need a cup in order to participate in the fellowship. But then, you do need coffee (it’s the law according to Vidits and Pitt, you know!) to be able to participate in fellowship, so perhaps you do need a cup after all.

We finish this week’s article with a warning. We have been learning more of the Holy Spirit (sometimes known as the ‘living water’) in our sermons. Now that you have been introduced or re-introduced, please do not forsake the Holy Spirit. Be in relationship, not in denial. And take care of the new toilets and the new kitchen when we have access to them. The Builders have dug them out for us and they will function superbly. It would be a sin to break them.

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 1 September 2021

New kitchen units (photo by GV, used with permission)
New entry through Prayer Room (photo by GV, used with permission)

I thought there would be a reporting gap this week because I am staying away from church for 10 days or so. However, our minister kindly sent me some photos of the latest progress, so here we are … let’s see what we have.

The kitchen units are being installed and may be completed by the end of the week. The aim, of course, has been a complete refresh and restoration of the kitchen, after a few years of discussion with the Environmental Health Department at the Local Authority and then, latterly, shameless pleading not to close us down as we were going to upgrade! The old units had served their purpose well, but were old and falling apart and the appliances were basic, old and inefficient. So our kitchen facilities will be enhanced not just by a dishwasher for when we get back to large events such as Lunch Club, but also by a more appropriate cooker. As you know, the realignment of the corridor for the toilet cubicles has meant a realignment of the kitchen wall and this small change will have quite a significant impact as the straight lines and better angles allow for a more logical detail to the layout and use of the kitchen.

As you will see from the photograph, the overall layout does remain similar, but we have moved the sink away from the window to make for a less crowded corner. We have retained a second sink over at the western window, and soon we will be faced with the challenge of which drawers and cupboards to store which items. I do wonder if we will have a dedicated coffee cupboard … and whether it needs to be kept locked and out of reach of the minister! I know everyone will be keen to get back to full use of the kitchen. It will be a pleasure to accommodate all our volunteers in such bright and airy surroundings.

This week we also turn our attention to the Prayer Room. We will have to become accustomed to new names because it is not understating it to note that the Prayer Room is being ‘repurposed.’ Basically, the corridor leading into the sanctuary is too narrow for health and safety (including disabled access), but the wall between the corridor and the Prayer Room is a structural one, so could not be completely removed.  The cunning solution has been to shift the Prayer Room back internally in the church, and to install a new, wider, corridor though the front of the old Prayer Room. The old corridor will become part of the back of the Prayer Room (the structural wall remains but with glass panelling installed to bring light into that back part of the room). The Prayer Room will thus become the church office and be more user friendly with the office at the side of the church where people actually enter for hall lettings etc. The west-most part of the old Prayer Room will be the access through to the sanctuary, just where the fireplace is currently set. (And that, dear reader, is why the West Transept is still screened off: the entrance corridor will have a door where the fireplace is, and this will bring people into the church sanctuary through the West Transept.) This corridor in front of the new office might be short, but it can point to grander things:

In front of the rooms was an inner passageway ten cubits wide and a hundred cubits long. Their doors were on the north. (Ezekiel 42:4)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 8 September 2021

Prayer Room, photo by Timothy Pitt, used with permission

This week, it’s all about viewpoints and perspectives.

We’re in the Prayer Room. As noted last week, we will soon have to get used to calling it variously the Church Office, the Reception Area, the Side Toilet and the Sanctuary Corridor. Actually, having a ‘Sanctuary Corridor’ appeals to my strange sense of historical nomenclature – visions of Celtic Christian saintly folk crammed into the corridor, wearing white linen shifts and moving safely through to, away from marauding Vikings. After all:

Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble. (Proverbs 3:23)

Sanctuary Access, photo by Timothy Pitt, used with permission

But I digress. Where were we?

We were in the Prayer Room. You will recall that the current Sanctuary Corridor is too narrow, but can be made into the ‘back shop’ of what will be the new Church Office. The wall between the corridor and the Prayer Room is structural, so it cannot just be removed. But we would be able to carve out a large section of the wall as long as we have a girder embedded overhead to maintain the structural integrity – a sort of extended lintel. You can see from the wider viewpoint photo of the Prayer Room that having stripped away the door and the cupboards, we find that this has already been done! At the top right of the photo, you can see a small section of the girder that has been uncovered, proving it is there. What needs to happen now is for the backs of the two cupboards and the doorframe to be slapped through into the old corridor. A section of wall (where the coat hooks remain) is the structural column and will remain, with the footprint of the actual office extending forward, towards where I was standing to take that photograph. The access into the Sanctuary will be through where the fireplace can be seen on the right of that photo.

As to that access into the Sanctuary … well, the progress here reminds me of the moment when the British and French engineering teams met each other when drilling the Channel Tunnel. Or, closer to home, when the north and south engineering teams met each other when drilling the little-known tunnel under the River Forth. In 1964, in order to provide a fast access to supply coal from the Kinneil Colliery at Bo’ness to the processing plant at Valleyfield in Fife, engineering teams started drilling under the River Forth from West Lothian and from Fife. Without computer or GPS, and relying instead on ordnance survey co-ordinates and measurements taken with piano-wire, all they had to do was meet in the middle. Right under the River Forth they tunnelled … and they met, they were a mere three inches off. Well, we have been tunnelling through from the Prayer Room to the West Transept, preparing for our own access, and you can see from the second photo that we have broken through.

I suppose we do need to keep enlarging it and create an actual access, but I’m tempted to ask for it to be left at that – looking through to the glory of the Sanctuary!

They tunnel through the rock;
    their eyes see all its treasures. (Job 28:10)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 15 September 2021

SSCB Building Work Plan

Just what do we think we’re doing, exactly? Over the weeks you have seen the detail of aspects of the refurbishment. But what does it look like when it is all put together?

This week, with the aid of a plan – a map of the church, if you will – we are going to go for a virtual walk around the church and see what is changing, and why. We’ll check out some familiar places and some new names. So, if you refer to the map, we’ll start in Area 1, in the kitchen.

As you know, the kitchen was old, not fit for purpose and only some shameless pleading saved it from being condemned by Environmental Health. Something had to give, so we started with the internal wall, and knocked it down. Now we have straight walls with better access, better work surfaces and better utilities.

We have a wider entrance, reducing the bottle neck of access to kitchen, Russell Hall and what was the gentlemen’s toilet. We have survived without a proper disabled facility – the inside of the one in the Prayer Room was sort of accessible, but getting to it was not! So we have built four toilet cubicles along the corridor. They may be used by anyone, so the usual rules apply: gentlemen, raise the seats or the ladies will raise the roof! We have widened the access at the Side Door and made it more logical without the labyrinthian turns to access the corridors. Finally, we have installed fire doors. Area 1 – compliant with modern health & safety standards.

It was modern health & safety standards that led to the Area 2 changes. The corridor into the sanctuary was not wide enough; the history of health & safety legislation may even show we were borderline / non-compliant for nearly a century! As long as we did not do anything, we could argue we were fine. But the first hint of a hammer in Area 1 had a ‘knock on’ effect and we had to act. With the wall being structural, as explained last week, we could not demolish the whole of the wall containing the Prayer Room entrance. So we built the corridor in front of that, pushing the Prayer Room deeper into the church. We will be renaming and re-purposing the Prayer Room as the Church Office, so that it is next to where people enter the building. And we will refurbish the Prayer Room toilet so we have access to facilities literally at our doorstep. The ‘corridor in front’ idea means that the new access into the Sanctuary comes in through the West Transept. We have removed the pews and the mains electric panel from that old labyrinthian wall referred to above has been moved there. The West Transept will be fully used with the individual chairs previously stacked at the back.

At the back – Area 3 – we are putting in a disabled access toilet in to bring us up to the required number of toilets for the building capacity, as well as a coffee point so we do not have to carry boiling water and hot coffee through from the main kitchen.

We have more to do, but we each have a home here, and now we can both find our way around and freely move around.

As the men started on their way to map out the land, Joshua instructed them, “Go and make a survey of the land and write a description of it. Then return to me, and I will cast lots for you here at Shiloh in the presence of the Lord.” (Joshua 18:8)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 22 September 2021

(photos taken by Timothy Pitt, used with permission)

Last week we were looking at the detail through our map of the church. It’s going to look superb; and more to the point, it is going to be a much better resource for us to use, as long as we use it properly: to enrich our worship and adoration of God and to enhance our fellowship under God’s love for us as a family. This week I want to look at some hidden treasures and see how that influences the Building Works.

The first photograph is an example of the hidden being revealed. It will eventually be hidden again behind panelling and redecoration, for this is the west-most wall of the west transept – just under the World War Two Memorial window. You would never guess it was there, behind the panelling, but it serves a purpose. It provides a route for some electric cables and a fresh air trap, designed when the church was first built, to allow fresh air in (thus preventing damp in the walls) and ‘holding’ it for a while beside and behind the radiators – long enough for the incoming air to warm up before circulating in the Sanctuary. This hidden treasure is like the many people who quietly work behind the scenes to allow the church to be … well … ‘there.’ It is the small army of people who see a job and do it; who wash the dishes, make and serve coffee, provide a welcome, a listening ear and a quiet word of prayer. So when it is all boarded over and painted out of view, looking swish and functioning well, pause and give thanks for the treasures  who continue to serve behind the scenes. And pray that the Holy Spirit would be free to move in this building, refreshing us and warming us in our own spirits.

The second photograph shows the markings made when the church was first built. This is in the soon-to-be ex-Prayer Room, and shows where the mantlepiece was measured up and marked out for installation. These straight-line markings were vital for the building and decoration but also vital to the ongoing functioning of the church. Although hidden away for all these years once the mantelpiece was fixed in place, these markings show the craftsmen and builders knew just where to measure out; just where to affix and build – all for the ongoing functioning of the church. Their knowledge allowed the mantlepiece to be straight, the fireplace to function, warmth to be provided and a homeliness to be found. Pause and give thanks to those from yesteryear, whose actions (material and in prayer) are covered up by the passing of the years but whose impact is still benefitting us today.

The third photograph shows a coin found in the West Transept where it had lain hidden under the pews. It is a ha’penny from 1971. That means that this particular coin joined us for worship anything from 50 to 37 years ago and just stayed on. Again, give thanks for those (likely, you are one of them?) who just happened to come into church one day, hung around and was able to drink in the wisdom and knowledge of the Message of God’s love for us all.

Unintended pleasures and unexpected treasures, all from the Building works.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 29 September 2021

I took these photos in and around the old Prayer Room, showing the progress of works at the new entrance to the Sanctuary through West Transept. The Book of Nehemiah came to mind, much of which is concerned with rebuilding and repair.

We can see echoes in our own story here at SSCB. There has been some opposition (in our case, from systems and processes) and we have had to steer the works through to reconfirmed permissions. Having begun the works  due to legal requirements of health and safety, disability access etc, like many other congregations we faced the Covid-19 pandemic and shortages of materials. We have had to raise funds (and we continue to face this particular challenge). Continuing the works was approved by Presbytery in the context of their moratorium because having begun the works, we have to push on to be able to obtain a completion certificate and thus ensure e do not fall foul of non-compliance measures in our use, insurance terms and provision of required facilities for the building’s capacity. But at least we have not started from a position of actually being in exile, and the Contractors have not had to have weapons at their side to defend against physical attack while they work.

Yet we do well to remember the example of Nehemiah and his people as he set out to restore the walls of Jerusalem. The first action was to pray. Throughout the progress of the works, there was prayer. When the works were finally completed, he led the people in giving thanks to God. He did not react negatively against the opposition being raised against the project, but he positively relied on God – seeking God’s will, receiving God’s blessing, using God’s resources. And the people rallied; they were integral to the effort. There was a family spirit to the works. Throughout the narrative of the rebuilding works, there are references to particular family members who rebuilt particular stretches of the wall and gates. These people used the giftings and skills that God had given to them, often rebuilding parts of the wall opposite their own homes. In our own context, we can see this in the way that the Church Family has taken ownership of the project. We are all the current stewards of the church building complex, but it is God’s house and it is for all generations, so we need to ensure it is fit to pass on to the next generation. So whether we have helped with an element of the physical work (clearing out the kitchen in advance, ongoing cleaning etc) or have contributed resources (funds for the works and, assuredly, ongoing prayer), we have all stepped up, helped out and pulled together.

Materials are being provided, walls are being rebuilt, entrances opened up and new life in the church is emerging. 

And when the works are completed we can return to the example of the Book. We can continue to help the poor; we can help more people return to God (exiles returning to Jerusalem!); we can continue to read the law (the Bible), draw closer to God and welcome new residents to the City – new members to our Church Family. We can – we must – do all this. For now, as we continue the works, let’s acknowledge the very bricks that we are all funding, the building skills and the ongoing work.

The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. They also repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Dung Gate. (Nehemiah 3:13)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 6 October 2021

Hopefully this series of articles has been both informative and uplifting. We have picked our way through the building works considered the improvements and looked at how they serve a purpose: to enable us to worship and honour God better.

The improvements enable us by making it easier for us all to access and use the building, gladdening our hearts as we see our surroundings and constantly reminding us that God is good and wants good things for us. We do not want to be extravagant in our surroundings, but extravagant in our love and praise of God. We want to honour God by acknowledging that these are His resources and by looking after them.

However, there are some aspects we do not often consider, and we should confess where we have not always looked after material things. We (and some who have gone before us) have taken the building and its contents for granted. We have just assumed it will always be here, and that it serves us and our purposes.

When the truth is revealed to us, it can make uncomfortable reading, unsettling viewing.

The first photograph looks into the foundations under the West Transept. With the foundations laid bare, if we shift our view along a bit we can see some disturbing truths: the second photograph shows some of the rubble and rubbish which has been allowed to accumulate over the years. Some detritus must be from when the church was built, but much has gathered as people have moved things, stored things, repaired and replaced things. We are left with a mini landfill of our own.

“Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble,
    a place for planting vineyards.
I will pour her stones into the valley
    and lay bare her foundations. (Micah 1:6)

Not to look after all our surroundings (from global climate to our own church building) is insulting to the LORD. It diminishes our reverence of His love for us. He provides all this for us and in caring little about the gift, we reveal that we care little about the giver.

Happily, the rubble is being tidied and responsibly disposed of, recycling what we can (third photograph). Our church will be a suitable offering of adoration and reverence for God and, equally, will allow us to step into God’s promise for us that Zephaniah so eloquently set out:

“At that time I will gather you;
    at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honour and praise
    among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortune
    before your very eyes,”
says the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:20)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 14 October 2021

There is one thing we have certainly had to live with these past months throughout the building works: dust. Overfilled rubble sacks seem to sprout from the walls and stand guard at strategic points. Moira has done an amazing job of keeping it under control, not just dusting and cleaning, but tidying even whilst the Contractors push up a new pile of stoorie. Certain persons (you know who you are!) are invaluable support to Moira, quietly dusting the pews before each Sunday service.

Still the work goes on, and still the cleaning and dusting continues.

Into this uneasy equilibrium the rest of us come, each Sunday. And we learn to raise our eyes above the dust; to lift our hearts beyond the rubble.

We are reminded that on our own, whatever the money we raise for the works or for ourselves in our lifetimes, without our Father God, we are scrabbling in the dust. We have no riches of our own. We are poor of spirit. But in that, we are blessed.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

Without our Father God, we are empty and are not satisfied in our basic needs. But in that, we are blessed:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Everything is God’s to give to us as He chooses, to share or withhold as He sees fit and decides. And that is because not only does everything belong to Him, but without Him, we have neither entitlement nor deliverance.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With mankind this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

You may wonder what this has to do with our church building works. I would like us, this week, to remember the dust. Remember the ash heap and the rubble. Focus on them for a while – both the dust and ash in the church and the dust and ash in your life. And then, slowly, allow Jesus to tilt your chin, to lift your gaze. Look up, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Look around you, in the name of Jesus. And you will see what God is doing. He is lifting us – poor as we are – from the dust. He is raising us – needy as we are – from the ashes. And He is seating us in a place of honour. So when these works are finished, we should honour God. Not just because the church looks nice or is comfortable. But because it all comes from God and enables us to draw closer to God. As you sit in your place of honour, here in God’s house, remember the dust and ash whence we all came and where we would still be but for Jesus. 

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
    on them he has set the world.” (1 Samuel 2:8)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 21 October 2021

My father has always said that preparation is nine tenths of the job. When we were young, we wondered if this was just to mask his procrastination because whenever he was reminded about an outstanding task he would also say, “I have it in mind’ and continue to prepare for it.

But, in truth, he was onto something. Whatever we do, we need to prepare to do it. Another well-used saying is “fail to prepare – prepare to fail.” Our preparation should involve seeking God. Where is He in this? What are His plans? How can we follow His lead?

Nehemiah gave us a good example. After he was given the bad news that the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down and the gates burned. His first reaction was shock and horror, but his first action was to pray:

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)

Then, and tellingly, Nehemiah kept praying. At the start, when the king noticed he was sad and asked him what he wanted, he prayed before he even spoke:

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, (Nehemiah 2:4-5)

Later, during the rebuilding works, plots were laid and his people were threatened. Nehemiah prepared in prayer and then acted:

They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 2:4-5)

At SSCB, everyone was encouraged to pray as we prepared for our building works. We are acting now (the builders undertaking the actual work, the supervisory team within our church family making project decisions and everyone donating finances as they feel called). In our actions, we need continuous prayer as well as the finances. Remember, prayer is part of our preparation. And preparation is nine tenths of the job. The need for prayer did not end when the first chisel was raised.

We know the works will one day be complete and so we can continue to prepare for their completion. Looking down the corridor towards the kitchen, we see that the toilets are now many doors, many rooms. Looking into the West Transept, we see the floor boards have now been lifted, preparing for the floor to be levelled. And in what was the Prayer Room, we see another room being prepared with the new church office taking shape, its ‘back shop’ area being readied from what was the corridor. Let’s look forward to the day of completion, but keep donating finances, keep offering prayers. Many rooms; much preparation; everything in prayer. We all have a spiritual home here.

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 29 October 2021

The church building works are worthwhile only if we use the enhanced church to draw closer to God. The church itself is nothing. To demonstrate that, your Session Clerk (urged on by your Minister) has been indulging in some fire-raising: I have burned the church.

My reason for this reminds me of my wedding day. At our wedding breakfast, sitting at the top table with everyone watching us, I noticed that my darling bride had taken off the wedding ring I had not long before put on her finger. And I got it. I understood. I then did the same. I slipped off my wedding band and put it on the table beside my glass of champagne. You see, like the champagne glass, the ring was just the vessel; the symbol. We had not become two wedding rings; we had become husband and wife. I wear my wedding band with honour, but it’s just a piece of metal. And it’s the same idea with our church.

The church is a place where we can gather in fellowship to worship God. It is a symbol of our faith only insofar as we can say to others, “I am going to church” and thus seek to start a conversation:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(Acts 1:8)

It is a place where we can, together, contemplate who we are and – importantly – who we are in Jesus. We do not worship church. We worship God in church (and anywhere else, for that matter). So the church itself, good though it is, comforting though it may be, modernised and refurbished though it will be … is not the important thing. Without Jesus, it is just an empty building no matter how many of us crowd into it. It is not the necessary link in our connection with God.

And so I have been burning it.

In levelling the West Transept floor, large wooden beams have been cut out and put in the skip. Our Minister noted that rather than leaving these offcuts in the skip, they could be good fuel for an open fire: hard, dried wood (thoroughly dried for over 115 years). Wood is more environmentally friendly than coal, and it is re-using it (we could say repurposing, but recycling is perhaps a step too far). I remarked to our Minister that I had an open fireplace at home. Later that night, some offcuts of this wood mysteriously disappeared from the skip. Only the Praise Band, leaving at the end of their music practice, saw that the Session Clerk was in the church grounds, beside the skip, pretty late that evening.

Of course, burning this wood does not affect the church. The wood was being thrown out anyway, so it is not a sacrifice. And it only provides temporary comfort. We want the church building to be fitting to help us to worship God, but actually to worship God, we really need Jesus; not some pieces of wood.

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.” And the two of them went on together. (Genesis 22: 7, 8)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 4 November 2021

At church on Sunday, I was struck by light. Not by lightning, I am pleased to report, but by light. The lights in the sanctuary – the old sodium bulbs take a while to heat up, casting a pale and yellow aura until the lights finally reaches down from the high ceiling.

I wondered whether the building works were helping us to address the lighting challenges, and so I took a walk around to check on some improvements.

You will see the new side door is in place. This has replaced the old, green wood panelled door. (In the photo, ignore the wooden block where the lock will eventually be affixed, and concentrate on the door and surround.) Light now floods in through the upper arch of the window. The panels in the door itself allow us a link from the natural light outside to the safety of the inside. It seems to speak not just of a welcome into the church, but of a connection from the church to the world outside; to the community where we are called to help spread the light of Jesus.

I noted a light-well that has been created in the ceiling. Mines and tunnels often need venting shafts in order to bring air to the passageway, to allow life. We have this well for God’s creation of light to come down to us. We will be able to benefit from that light as we walk around, but when it is finished, I encourage you not just to walk around in the church, but to find this light shaft and stand under it for a while. Look up and contemplate the light that is at that moment being poured down just for you. Jesus met a woman at a water well and told her everything she ever did, drawing her into relationship with God. We can stand under this light well and enjoy our own relationship with God.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us. (Psalm 4:6)

The old Prayer Room (which is being turned into the new Church office and the access corridor into the West Transept) also now benefits from so much more light. Light through the window of the old Prayer Room reaches deeper into the building.

My walk of light, inspecting the works, brought me back to the Sanctuary where I had first noticed the slow process of man-made light trying to take control of the Sanctuary. Then I noticed that God had already been at work (as He always is), even in our temporary tent within the Sanctuary. We don’t need a ‘Holy of Holies’, for Jesus has granted us access all areas to God and His throne room. But God’s natural light was flooding through the large windows and providing a stronger, more warming, more comforting light than ever could be provided by our old sodium lights.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
    he stretches out the heavens like a tent. (Psalm 104:2)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 17 November 2021

Having been away last Sunday, I took a walk around to check on progress. We really are pretty much done. There are fewer opportunities for a dramatic photograph of the works because we are so close to completion. I wondered aloud if it was about to get boring and maybe we should look to launch a new appeal and building project. Happily, I was shouted down.

Where, then, are we? I was impressed to see the West Transept floor has now been levelled and the pews at the very back re-installed. What do we have left to do? The Contractors are confident they need just two more weeks for three key aspects: (1) to install the toilet and wash-hand basin fittings to the disabled toilet at the back of the sanctuary and hang the toilet door; (2) to complete the wiring, install a small water boiler on the other side of that wall and complete the coffee prep point; and (3) to install the door between the West Transept and access at the Side Door / Church Office. Apart from that, it is minor works and snagging – finishing off some plasterboard in the church office, matching up and fitting some missing sections of skirting board and staining the new wood to match the dark brown interior.

It certainly seems do-able by the end of the month. Then it’s on to us. As you know, the Work Party made a huge difference in sorting out what we need to keep and where it might go. We will have to put things in their proper place, set up signage (for emergency exits and information on what is stored where) and we will have to arrange the layout of the new Church Office.

Meantime, George and I found three large old Bibles of the type that were carried into the Sanctuary ahead of the worship service or kept as family Bibles inscribed with the names of each succeeding generation. We have our own large Church Bible at the lectern and it is used each week for reading Scripture. One of the Bibles we found is in ‘good enough’ condition but two of them are damaged beyond repair.

It got us thinking. The Bibles are not needed, as we have one (and a spare). They have no re-sale value. We could certainly throw them out for recycling. Or we could be daring and see if we can turn them into wallpaper. We could line a lower panel in one of the rooms. It’s worth thinking about; it’s worth praying about. 

And that, in turn, got me thinking further. (It’s a dangerous pursuit, all this thinking.) As noted, we are just about done for the works – only those three main tasks to complete and then the snagging for the Contractors and the final ‘putting in order’ for us. So is that it? Soon to be ’job done’ with nothing else? Well, in an earlier Buildings Update article, I noted the need for prayer. This should be the first thing we do; it should be the continuous thing we do; and it should be the last thing we do. So what could be the focus of our prayers now? Quite simply, please pray for the building. Take a walk around the accessible areas next Saturday and pray (be part of the Day of Prayer and Work). Pray just where you are right now as you read this article. Pray for those who have gone before, for us all here today and for those yet to come. Pray forgiveness for our mistakes, poor decisions and wrong acts. Pray thanksgiving for the successes where God has led and we have all had the wisdom and humility to follow. Pray that this place continues to be a true sanctuary where we can, together, come before God and worship Him with all things in their allotted place.

I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense. (Nehemiah 13:9)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 24 November 2021

Have we had a problem with pews, or is it just that there is a plethora of pews? Seeing some of the more comfortable chairs stacked and ready in the West Transept, I started to congratulate us all as a Church Family for what we have done. Then I stopped and scolded myself. That is not what the building project has been about. The works were not so we could say, ‘Well done, us!’

Why did we take the pews out of the West Transept? How can we use this to draw closer to God? And how can we remember the lesson, spread the message? In the Celtic Christianity series a while ago, we found that one of the purposes of the carved illustrations on a Tall Cross was as a ‘preaching point’ – the Celts would gather at a Tall Cross and use the inscriptions as the starting point for a sermon, leading to a time of worship and helping everyone on their spiritual journey. I invite you to think of our pews in this same fashion.

Looking again, I found soothing for my earlier self-reproach. I found reassurance for us all through the comfort of the pews:

He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. (Jeremiah 52:32)

Let me explain. Yes, the building works (including the essential removal of those West Transept pews) have enabled compliance with building standards, health & safety requirements and other relevant laws. But we have used some of the pews for other things; we elevated them and did not discard them. You will remember the point from our Call to Worship on 21st November:

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

We can find an example in the removal and refresh of the pews. We donated some to the Grassmarket Community Project, to be renovated and sold as benches. People buying them will clearly see that they came from a church. Perhaps they are now ‘pews of witnessing’ for their owners, just another nudge to think about spiritual health? The pews have been enhanced from mere furniture hidden behind our walls to potential evangelical tools out in the community.

Within the West Transept, we have retained pews at the back wall. But look carefully at the photograph. We have elevated one section of pew as a new shelf above the radiator. And look at the photograph of what will be a wall of disabled toilet at the rear of the sanctuary: again, a familiar piece of wood is now built-in as a shelf. The message is ‘Do not idolise the pews. Love only God. Use all things to His glory.’ Remember those pews, gone from their original location; find them and be reminded of how we, too, can be lifted up for other uses; not more important, but just asimportant. The re-used pews are not the least but, for their new role, they are in a better place, with a message in them if we choose to pay attention to God’s word.

If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Luke 14 9-10)

[from Timothy Pitt]


Building Work Update 1 December 2021

We have considered specific details throughout the story of the Building Works, examining lost coins that were returned to us; looking through the first small gap as the West Transept access was created; even clambering over the pile of rubble in the kitchen corridor. We have studied the architect’s plans for the overall works, tracing a finger around the church and what is being done.

Now, we step back and look at it anew; seeing a perspective that will soon be familiar to us. We want to be filled with anticipation of what is about to be a real, tangible part of our church life; to capture that moment of the new being revealed. And we do not want to take for granted the knowledge that things have changed.

The hope in the promise; the knowledge that there will be completion (though we do not know exactly when); the impending and permanent change; and not – ever – wanting to take it all for granted. This is an advent.

The hope is not a wild guess: we have seen the plans, been told of ongoing works, seen signs of it ourselves.

It is going to change the way we interact with the building and with each other. For some, we just want it done so we can get on with the important things like providing for each other using our best resources. For others, we have had an almost dread fascination of these never-ending works, wondering if the new layout will actually happen and will make such a difference to us. And for yet others, we have almost savoured the moments of slow progress as we journeyed with the Contractors, sharing in each twist and turn, each challenge and success. The important point is that we have not put our lives on hold – we have chosen to live life, under different circumstances, but to live and not just survive.

But it’s only a building. Jesus is everything.

Think about your attitude to the Advent of the Messiah. Living in those days, what would you think? “Lord, I need you, so just hurry up and be here!” Are you so used to the routine of life that you wonder how His arrival will really change things. Or perhaps you have poured over Scripture, understood the signs, felt that frisson of anticipation and with a smile, you simply surrender yourself to the joy of expectation?

We all need Jesus, and in order to see Jesus, we need perspective; to make room in our hearts.

And just as in the time leading up to Jesus’ birth, so now: we need to live our lives for Jesus, not just sit, doing nothing, and wait for Him. That is part of our wider perspective of Jesus, because He leads us to God – He is, as He said, the way and the truth and the life.

And so I looked at the building works this week from a wider perspective, stepping back to see the path. Yes, the painting and flooring has still to be done, but we can now see the welcoming entrance where before we needed a map and rigorous training to squeeze round corners and doors. We can see the church office brought to the fore and not hidden in the depths. We can see the Sanctuary linked from the public halls under the gaze of the office area. There is a direct access and not obstacles and dark, thin corridors.

Your procession, God, has come into view,
    the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. (Psalm 68:24)

[from Timothy Pitt]

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