Ballyloughan Presbyterian Church opened its doors in October 2023 to welcome people into their newly renovated building ready to celebrate their 50-year anniversary in December. The building was originally constructed in 1977 and the main hall needed refurbishment. The church also needed more space to continue to serve the local community for the next 50+ years.
While the church actively raised funds for the property, Ballyloughan approached Stewardship for assistance with a loan to help complete the works required on the building.
Stewardship’s Natasha Wood chatted to Darran McCorriston, who has been minister of the church since December 2006, about the church and how Stewardship has helped them.
Q: Tell us about yourself and the history of Ballyloughan Presbyterian Church?
A: Ballyloughan Presbyterian Church is located in the town of Ballymena, Northern Ireland. The church began as a church plant in December 1973, and has steadily grown throug the years. It now has a regular attendance of just over 350 people across two Sunday morning services. The aim of the church is to grow followers of Jesus who love God wholeheartedly, who love each other sacrificially, and who love God’s world generously.
Q: Since you’ve been in your current building, what inspired the refurbishment of the building?
A: Our church building was constructed in 1977 and whilst significant refurbishments had taken place in recent years to most other areas of the premises, not much had changed over the years in the main church building where we meet for Sunday Services, and it was showing its age. It required a major upgrading of its heating, electrics, media, and general décor. Perhaps more significantly, our vision was to see the architecture of the building reflect the culture of our church – warm, welcoming to all, relaxed and forward-thinking, while also honouring the past. We wanted to create a space that would not only work well for regular Sunday worship services, but that can also be adapted for other events, for example prayer events, café church-style events, holiday bible club-type sessions, etc. In addition, we needed to extend our buildings to provide some further room for programmes such as our Sunday children’s ministry.
Q: How has Stewardship supported the church on this project?
A: While our congregation had built up some reserve towards the total refurbishment cost of £980,000, we were requiring a loan of £400,000 to enable us to proceed with the project. We were encouraged to approach Stewardship before speaking with any high street bank. From the beginning, we have been very impressed with their professionalism, the rapport which they build up with clients, as well as their heart to see ministry flourish and the Kingdom of God grow.
Q: Where did you meet while the building work was taking place?
A; Due to the significant extent of the work, we met in a local primary school just across the road from our church. As a church, we already enjoyed a good relationship with the school community, and this was furthered developed during the nine months in which we used the school on Sundays.
Q: What impact do you think that the refurbished church building will have in the wider community and for the wider church?
A: Since moving back into the building at the beginning of October 2023, we’ve already seen members returning who perhaps had stopped coming to church since Covid-19, and we’ve also had significant numbers of new people coming to church from the local area and beyond. We’re finding that the church is a much more modern and welcoming environment which people feel comfortable coming in to. The additional room is a tremendous resource for our Sunday morning children’s groups as well as for other midweek ministries. As part of the refurbishment, we created a Quiet Room for children with additional needs, as well as a break-out area for people who want to come along to church but for reasons of physical or mental illness feel uncomfortable being part of a big crowd. Our break-out area enables these people to come along and be a part of what’s going on, while feeling secure in a safe space.
We’ve been able to use the building for community events such as a Light Party at Halloween time and the local primary school plan to use it for their Christmas Nativity this December.
Q: What is Ballyloughlan’s vision for the future?
A: We’re a church family that continues to be very active in our local community through a range of community provision which practically shows God’s love, as well as proclaiming the gospel. Our vision is to be a church family that continues to grow and bear fruit for Jesus.
Photo reference: Ballyloughan Presbyterian Church
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