Aberdeenshire church ‘delighted’ to unveil upgraded facilities
Published on 20 October 2022 3 minutes read
Rev Paul McKeown and the congregation of Belhelvie Church in Aberdeenshire are celebrating the opening of their new and improved church facilities this Sunday after a near £700,000 project has finally reached completion.
The Belhelvie Church building, which dates back to 1878, has been undergoing improvements for the last seven years, including upgrades to the church and hall buildings, as well as a new 40-space car park and a newly-built annexe building which is open for use by local community groups.
To mark the occasion, the congregation of Belhelvie is organising a celebration service on Sunday 23 October from 11am, which will include the official opening of the annexe building.
"For a wee country congregation, we can rightly be proud of what we've achieved," said Paul.
"The pandemic robbed us of a chance to have a proper opening ceremony. But now that things have opened up again we decided it'd be good to mark the occasion by having a special service on Sunday.
"It's a chance to look back over the journey of the last seven years and give thanks for what we've managed to pull off.
"We are delighted to have finished this major project and owe a huge debt of thanks to everyone who got behind it and supported it, including our donors, those who gave time and effort as well as finance to see the project through, and other local groups and agencies who got behind our efforts.
"A big part of our vision for the annexe is that it be used by both church and community.
"The more folk who've seen it, know about it and use it, the better."
‘A blessing to our congregation'
The £671,500 worth of work on the building was generously funded by both the congregation, who managed to raise just over half of the total, as well as via partners including the Church of Scotland, LEADER (a funding programme for rural projects), EBS Scotland (Landfill), the Garfield Weston Trust, The Robertson Trust, The Baird Trust and Aberdeenshire Council.
The congregation were also grateful for significant grants from the Formartine Area Committee, The Swinton Paterson Trust, The Beatrice Laing Trust, The Allchurches Trust, The Co-op Local Community Fund, and the David and June Gordon Trust.
Paul added: "A special word of thanks needs to go to our development team of Ian Mackenzie, Laura Barron, Francois Van Niekerk, and Allan Ritchie.
"They took this work forward on behalf of the congregation. Without their dedication, hard work and faith, this project would never have reached completion.
"We're excited to see how this space is going to become a blessing to our congregation and parish going forward."
The annexe building has been in use since the start of 2021, with various community activities already using the new space.
"Folk are making bookings for children's parties, and we are hoping – in time – to be able to offer out the whole venue, with both halls, for wedding receptions as it's ideally situated just across from Belhelvie Church itself," said Paul.
"We also have some space that might be perfect for a small local business looking for bright, spacious accommodation."
The celebration service will take place on Sunday 23 October from 11am at Behelvie Church, Balmedie, Aberdeenshire. All are welcome to join and hear the story of the development project and give thanks for what has been achieved.