Extension at Baptist church moves closer

Steve Summerfield
Steve Summerfield

An extension to a church has moved a step closer after planning permission was renewed.

The Reverend Steve Summerfield and fellow parishioners at Shefford Baptist Church want to add a two storey rear extension to the building in Bedford Road.

The extension would see a new activity area and church lounge being built, while there would also be an extension to the worship sanctuary area.

Internal alterations would be made to the lift and staircase. Other changes would include an extension to the vestibule and welcome area, including a ramp for disabled access.

A new meeting room would be built, while the grass car park would be paved and a disabled parking space added.

A consultation period will now run until Friday, February 14, and a final decision is expected to be made on or before March 11.

Mr Summerfield, deacons including Dave Tofts and other parishioners have dedicated themselves to fundraising.

The project is expected to cost more than £600,000 to complete.

Members of the church particularly want to develop a larger and more user friendly entrance area and refurbish the kitchen and toilet facilities at the church. Fundraising events have included a parachute jump undertaken by Mr Summerfield to give the appeal an early boost.

The minister took the plunge in a 13,000ft tandem jump, raising more than £2,000 in the process.

He said it was particularly challenging as he is terrified of heights.

The church has also held fundraising afternoon teas, concerts and coffee mornings to help the appeal.

There is agreement among members of the church that the project is necessary at a time when the existing building has reached a point where it clearly needs work.

Mr Summerfield said: “First built in the 1820s and modernised several times since, our existing building has started to deteriorate to such an extent that the fellowship believe that spending any more large sums of money would be bad stewardship of funds.

“Having looked at a variety of options it was decided to pursue a major extension to the building.”

An extension would also mean there is more scope for other organisations to use the church for their activities and events, Mr Summerfield said.

He added: “We want our buildings to be used by the community throughout the week. Our vision is that we should be able to host activities but not actually run them.”