New Zion Christian Fellowship

How New Zion Christian Fellowship made more space

Rose and Peter Eldridge

“The alterations have made an amazing difference… We can get up to 50 more seats. We are virtually full up again…”

Peter Eldridge, Minister, New Zion Christian Fellowship

New Zion Christian Fellowship has been meeting in a former Brethren chapel in Welwyn Garden City for many years, but had outgrown the space available. The interior was both restricted in terms of space and shabby in appearance. There was a room at the front of the building, divided from the main space but under-used. The entrance was cramped, and because of frosted glass in the doors it was difficult to know whether there was any life in the building, which had a defensive feel. The building sat on a small site with few options for expansion.

Front view of church before the works

Front view before the works | photo: Paul Skuce

Front view after completion

Front view after completion | photo: archangel

More space was created in two ways. Firstly better use could be made of the existing space, by removing a partition to open up the separate front room to the rest of the chapel. Secondly an extension was built on an area of unused land to the side of church, with the addition of a Youth Room at the rear, a Creche Room at the front, and an extension to the chapel itself in between.

 

The entrance was enlarged to give a much warmer welcome, while the ability to see into the entrance lobby makes for a much less daunting approach. Other changes were made to improve to improve storage, including providing stair access to an existing loft space – this has transformed the operation of the food bank, which has now been able to bring the stored food from a remote garage into the church itself.

Interior before the works

Interior before the works | photo: Paul Skuce

Interior after completion

After

The appearance and feel of the main space has been enhanced in a number of ways. Windows have been replaced which immediately has made the church far warmer, aided by a more efficient heating system. The removal of the partition wall between the two main spaces has created a much lighter and more spacious feel, and in order to create the maximum sense of continuity the support follows the line of the pitched roof, rather a horizontal beam. An old and shabby carpet was lifted to reveal an old parquet floor in most but not all areas. This was stripped and resealed and has come up beautifully, adding both warmth a touch of class to the space. The building has been decorated throughout.

view from the rear

View from the rear

“One of the most amazing outcomes of the church extension is the innovative use of space and light. I don’t think we imagined so much could be done in a fairly small space. It is light, open …fantastic!” Liz

After some initial teething problems acoustic panels were added to the ceiling to reduce the amount of echo, making for a much better acoustic feel to the space – changes of finish on both the floor and ceilings had changed this significantly.

“We honour the presence of God who lingers in our little building, and Archangel seems to have partnered with this and joined us in making space for him.”

The project at New Zion Christian Fellowship has been extremely successful, with a responsive client achieving an outstanding result. This success is due in large part to the leadership of the church. Peter and Rose Eldridge, supported by Keith and May Ling Waddington grasped a vision for what God was wanting to do in that place, and were able to communicate that vision clearly to the church membership. Throughout the process there was an impressive sense of unity, and it was a privilege to accompany this community as they stepped forward in faith.

As Peter Eldridge writes:

“The biggest problem was that the space we had was split into separate parts, with a room at the front and attic that were never used except for storage. The idea was to get rid of the division and make the front room part of whole building. We were full up on Sundays and pressed for space.

joyful dance

photo: Paul Skuce

The alterations have made an amazing difference – already the space has 30 more seats and we can get up to a total of 50 more seats. We are virtually full up again when everyone is there.

Archangel had the idea of putting extra rooms on the side. These side rooms are very useful, including the mother and babies room – we now have 5 babies so that was just in time! The Youth Room also works well – the youth meet there every Friday night – the activities are mostly social and they use the area to the side of the church, and set up the pool table there. The youth are starting a mural on the wall of the room.

The entrance is much more spacious and better for welcoming people. The new stairs to the back attic are a great help – we use the space for storing food for our Wednesday food bank. The food used to be stored in a garage off site, so the stairs mean we can now do food bank work much more easily. The service has been excellent – Archangel couldn’t have been more helpful. We are very pleased.”