Baptists to finally get new hall

'Even a large digger has been loaned'

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 14/06/2013
Martyn Wilson
NATASHA MARTIN/Fairfax NZ

CHANGES AFOOT: Wilson St Baptist Church administrator and treasurer Martyn Wilson stands in the old hall which will be demolished as part of the church property’s redevelopment.

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An estimated $1 million redevelopment of a Timaru church could cost about $550,000, thanks to donations of time and funds.

It's a case of out with the old and in with the new at the Wilson St Baptist Church premises with work starting on Monday.

Church administrator and treasurer Martyn Wilson said parishioners who were tradesmen had offered their time and people outside the church had been equally generous.

"Even a large digger has been loaned," Mr Wilson said.

The hall, which was built in 1916 and has undergone a myriad of extensions and alterations over the years, will be demolished.

A new hall with a covered foyer entrance to the church will be built in its place.

Part of the parking area in front of the current hall and where the offices are located will be subdivided and sold, with car parking created at the back of the manse, next door.

Though the hall survived the earthquakes it is below new building code standards and "past its use-by date".

Mr Wilson said the church wanted to open up the hall but its double brick outside wall became its interior supporting wall in previous extensions and could not be removed. The kitchen is also outdated and toilets are too small for wheelchair users.

Project manager Stephen Styles said the new hall will be of a standard for future generations to enjoy.

It will have wheelchair access to six toilets and two showers as well as double glazing and a commercial kitchen.

Mr Wilson said the project had been in the planning for about 10 years but he was pleased it had not been completed as the earthquakes made designers look at it differently.

"If we had done it earlier we would have probably done the wrong thing."

The focus of the new hall is not just for church and community groups but as a potential emergency shelter.

Pastor John McMullan said it was an exciting project.

"We hope to continue to serve the Lord and serve the community with hospitality and friendship."

The redevelopment is expected to be completed by October 2014.

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- The Timaru Herald

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