|An Inspiring Church Centre|
|Written by Peter Johnston|
|Tuesday, 17 March 2009 21:16|
For many, many years I have had a subscription to AutoExpress the car magazine (it was a birthday gift a long time ago from Carolyn that has never stopped!). Before that I used to buy car magazines all the time and particularly, of course, to read about the Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Times have changed a lot... Now if there is a review of a new estate car or people carrier I get excited! Look at all that room, I think, and all the cubbyholes... I guess this is something to do with growing up!
I've been through a similar change over church buildings too. [There's more...]Having spent a number of years almost daily singing in a beautiful Cathedral in Peterborough and having been dragged into countless churches and cathedrals in my childhood whenever we were out in the country or in France (my dad always wanted to have a look at the organ), I still can recognise and appreciate a beautiful worship space. However, more and more I now think also about the practicalities and usefulness of a building.
Today I attended a conference session for presbytery representatives held by the Mission & Discipleship Council in Bankfoot Church Centre just a few miles north of Perth. Part of the day was spent considering the use of buildings and how many congregations have altered their buildings to best suit their needs. This was very interesting.
The venue was carefully chosen as it is a tremendous new church centre, indeed one which I blogged about in December because of its green credentials. We took a guided tour of the building after lunch and it really is a wonderful resource for the community. The bright entrance vestibule doubles as a cafe looking into the sanctuary, there are numerous meeting rooms, a prayer room, a hall, a small day-care centre for elderly people, a soft-play area for children, and a youth cafe area (The Hub) that we were told is already attracting around 70 children.
There is a simple beauty to the building, in part because of the very creative way light is used, and yet it epitomises what being a church in the heart of the community and open to all should be about. I was very impressed. (Though I should say the site is actually on the edge of the community!)
I have no doubt that if there was no Church of Scotland presence in Blantyre and you started with a blank sheet of paper you wouldn't build a number of different buildings today, you would build one church centre along these lines offering a variety of facilities and two or three different Sunday services catering for different needs and expectations. Easy for me to say, perhaps, as someone who does not feel tied to buildings, but when you see what can be done with a modern church building you will see what I mean.