Circuit Webteam: January 2017
On Saturday 28 January 2017 Mary Leman (one of the eldest) and Monty Reed (at 2 years, one of the youngest), unveiled a plaque signalling the start of a new chapter in the life and witness of a Cheltenham Methodist Church.
With almost every seat taken, the short service of dedication in a packed Bethesda Methodist Church in the presence of Cheltenham Borough Mayor Mrs Chris Ryder and her husband Consort Paul, was the culmination of much prayer, discussion, vision, hard work and incredible generosity.
With all the money raised, half by the local congregation, Bethesda Methodist has completed a massive £558,000 redevelopment and refurbishment scheme. Designed by Integrated Architecture, the new suite of ancillary premises was built over 8 months by Kilbury Construction — both Gloucester based companies.
The day saw an 'Open House' when visitors were invited to view the new suite of premises, providing a light, warm-welcoming, community space. This includes meeting rooms, a well-equipped kitchen enabling refreshments and meals to be served, fully accessible toilets and baby changing facilities, an office, a children's play room and a large, light and airy reception room with a view skywards where the old organ loft used to be. New furniture, including a widescreen giving updates of church activities and community news will also be provided. A commissioned piece of bespoke art entitled 'Pool' by award winning Scottish willow artist Lizzy Farey now hangs in the new reception area. She says, "it makes me think of the pool of Bethesda. It's a healing pool and so ultimately it's about transformation".
Revd Naomi Cooke, Minister at Bethesda, said "the congregation grasped the vision of what was needed to provide these vastly improved facilities for the community. With over half the cost of this project directly given by the congregation, we have experienced incredible giving and grace in response to God's generosity to us. The remainder of the money came through generous grants from wider Methodist Church sources. We are delighted with these facilities as they enable new ways of being church. We look forward to working alongside the local community in making full use of them".
Bethesda Methodist Church was built over 170 years ago. The stone used in the new side entrance was sourced from the very same quarry from which the Church was originally built. With an average congregation of around 100 worshippers, toddler, youth, study, prayer, luncheon, singing and focus groups also meet during the week.
Bethesda is well known as an "eco church" and the first Methodist church in the Bristol Methodist District to receive the National Eco-Congregation Award. It is one of a handful of churches in England to have received three national awards — the third church in England to have achieved this. Bethesda also installed solar energy in September 2009.
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