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 1 July 2021
Building Work Update 27 July 2021
Building Work Update 18 August 2021
Building Work Update 8 September 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 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]

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