12:00PM, Friday 12 January 2018
Hundreds of people returned to worship at St Mary’s Church on Sunday following a £2million pound renovation.
The striking building sits just off Maidenhead High Street and worshippers were able to enjoy better accessibility, superior heating and improved sound.
Passers-by will notice the church’s distinctive appearance, which includes an extended ‘glass box’ foyer known as the ‘welcome area’.
Donations from the church’s congregation accounted for much of the finance behind the project, which started in September 2016, while the rest was made up with grants from various trusts, including the Louis Baylis Trust.
Rev Will Stileman said: “We are thrilled to be back in the heart of Maidenhead where we can welcome even more people on Sundays and during the week.
“We’ve been growing as a church over recent years and these new facilities will help us put on a great range of events for the community.”
St Mary’s operations manager John Furley said of the congregation: “They love it.
“There are lots of new buildings around us.
“It is a modern design. The glass box – our welcome area – we really notice people stopping and looking.”
Improvements include a level floor, which improves accessibility to members of the congregation, more effective and efficient heating and a refurbished organ.
The audio and visual experience of services has been enhanced with better acoustics designed into the building, and a bigger screen which members can view if they can’t see the front.
“It’s warm,” Mr Furley added. “The acoustics are amazing.”
The decision to renovate snowballed from an earlier idea to add under-floor heating.
Realising the impact the changes would have to the building’s floor, the church’s staff decided to make improvements to the entire building.
A desire to host more community events and the increase in members attending church were also motivating factors.
Sunday services moved out to Bray Road-based Oldfield Primary’s school hall while the renovations were completed but the church’s worshippers were back in force to see the changes.
“We had more than 700 at the services (on Sunday),” said Mr Furley.
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