INSIDE OUT, OUTSIDE IN: The Bellie Church Re-order Project
In 2009, a two-phase programme of major internal renovations to Bellie Church was completed, resulting in removal of the downstairs pews, a 180 degree rotation of the sanctuary, the creation of a larger chancel area at the rear of the church, the replacement of the ceiling, a complete rewiring of the church building, an upgrade to the heating and lighting system and the installation of audio visual equipment. Phase 2 also saw the relocation of the Allen organ to under the west gallery, the creation of a kiosk for the sound operator and a fundamental revamp of the decor in the building.
What did the Bellie Church Re-Order Project seek to achieve?
The aim of the Re-order project was to attempt to realise the full potential of the Bellie Church building and provide improved facilities and meeting space for all church-based organisations and for wider use by the local community.
The then Bellie congregation was also facing a number of challenges in terms of the requirements of modern day worship. The orignal chancel area was deemed to be too small for use by the Sunday School, Take Note, the Praise Group, the Music Group and other musicians such as the Fochabers Fiddlers. In addition, the size of the chancel area proved difficult to accommodate baptisms, weddings, funerals and other special services within the church building.
Due to the age of the building, it was also necessary for the ceiling to be replaced, the electrics to be rewired and for the heating and lighting systems to be upgraded. The condition of the 120 year old pipe organ at the rear of the church had deteriorated and, after consulting external specialists, it was concluded that the organ was beyond economic repair. This was coupled with the congregation's desire to improve the line of sight for those attending worship, to change the orientation of the sanctuary to better appreciate the colourful stained glass windows and to also provide easier access for wheelchairs and prams.
The Re-order project therefore embraced the working title 'Inside Out, Outside In' as this was much more than a building renovation project. The reason for this was that the congregation felt that the use of the Church building, the worship, fellowship, learning and empowering should be done in order that they can serve the community within which the Church building is situated.
As the title 'Inside Out, Outside In' suggests, the intention for the Re-order project was to allow the then Bellie congregation to take its work and identity out into the community and bring the community into the church. In completing the Re-order project, the congregation wished to convey an image of being an active and friendly congregation whose church doors are open for use 7 days a week, a congregation with a clear mission to reach out to all in the parish and make the excellent and modern facilities available to neighbours in the community.
More than just fundraising!
The scale of the Re-order project was such that it could not be funded from general church funds and it was therefore necessary for the congregation to undertake extensive fundraising events in order to raise the money required to finance the project. A dedicated Fundraising Committee from within the congregation was appointed with a remit of raising the funds required.
The Fundraising Committee organised a wide range of events in order to use the many talents of members of the congregation. And the committee certainly made sure that there was something for everyone in the local community, both young and old, to enjoy.
The fundraising efforts included weekly Coffee and Chat in the Church hall, annual Summer Balls, Family Ceilidhs, Scots Nights, Sponsored walks and marathons, concerts, talent shows, selling recipe booklets and ladies' lunches.
And it became clear that it was not just about raising money - these fundraising events were a great source of fun and fellowship involving the wider community.
Phase 1 - The replacement of the 120 year old pipe organ
After concluding that the existing 120 year old pipe organ was beyond economic repair, the congregration proceeded with the first phase of the Bellie Church Re-order project in early 2007 with the replacement of the organ with a modern Allen organ.
Phase 2 - The 180 degree rotation and so much more!
After raising sufficient finance to proceed with the Re-order project, the church building closed on Easter Sunday 2009 for a period of six months to allow for the works on Phase 2. This included the removal of the downstairs pews, a 180 degree rotation of the sanctuary, the creation of a larger chancel area at the rear of the church, the replacement of the ceiling, a complete rewiring of the church building, an upgrade to the heating and lighting system and the installation of audio visual equipment. Phase 2 also saw the relocation of the Allen organ to under the west gallery, the creation of a kiosk for the sound operator and a fundamental revamp of the decor in the building.
The pictures below track the progress of the project throughout Phase 2 until the re-dedication service which took place on 27 September 2009:
6 April 2009 - The church interior prior to the commencement of Phase 2
28 April 2009 - Work being carried out on the removal of asbestos.
30 April 2009 - The cementing work required for the removal of asbestos
5 May 2009 - The main contractor commences work on Phase 2
15 May 2009 - The initial downstairs work on Phase 2
15 May 2009 - The scaffolding required for the work to replace the ceiling
15 May 2009 - The initial work on the replacement of the ceiling
22 May 2009 - Work continues on the replacement of the ceiling
22 May 2009 - Behind the hoarding at the front of the church
15 June 2009 - Work nears completion on the ceiling
15 June 2009 - Carvings for the re-ordered church
9 July 2009 - Work starts on the new chancel area
17 July 2009 - Work continues on the new chancel area
17 July 2009 - Re-decoration of the area behind the former pulpit
17 July 2009 - The completed work on the new ceiling
24 July 2009 - Work progresses on the new chancel area
31 July 2009 - Work almost complete on the new chancel area
14 August 2009 - The new chancel area gets the finishing touches
27 September 2009 - The new chancel area prior to the re-dedication service
27 September 2009 - The rest of the church after the conclusion of Phase 2