Bethlehem Church, Spittal
Bethlehem is an evangelical Baptist church, and during the past five years, have sought to expand mission and outreach into all areas of the community, including a parent and toddler group, a community soup lunch, a ladies’ craft group, a young adults’ dinner and discussion group, a primary school holiday club providing a free lunch for the children, and a secondary school youth group. In addition, they undertake social events on a monthly basis involving varied activities from quiz nights to ten-pin bowling, from film nights to treasure hunts, from firework displays to Christmas fayres. Each of these community groups and outreach activities retain a primary focus of building links with the community, strengthening existing non-Church relationships and demonstrating the love of Christ through action as well as by word.
The church sanctuary building is 200 years old this year and had been maintained well and was generally fit for purpose, but there was a major health and safety concern regarding the balcony within the church sanctuary. When the congregation was smaller everyone was seated downstairs but as the numbers of attendees increased, the balcony needed to be used. As the staircase to the balcony is uneven, it is predominately young families that are seated upstairs, and he wooden barrier at the front of the balcony was only 70cm high and therefore dangerous for babies and young children.
The members are very grateful to the James Pantyfedwen Foundation for their grant towards the cost of making the balcony area within the church safe for use. A contractor was appointed to install a glass balustrade around the front of the balcony and across six large windows, and they have been sensitively installed in keeping with the age and décor of the rest of the chapel. Following the work, the fellowship is able to safely seat 95 people on the balcony for our church services. And the work was completed just in time for the 200th anniversary celebrations!