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A Peek Inside The Superbly Refurbished Millmead Church

Published on: 25 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 25 Jul, 2021

Grace Eakin is an undergraduate studying for a degree in philosophy at the University of Reading, who also has links with Guildford. Here she visits Guildford Baptist Church in Millmead to see its impressive major renovation that is now complete.

If you have ever walked along the river through Guildford town centre or crossed the footbridge at Millmead Lock, your attention may have been caught by a building just opposite.

The entrance to Guildford Baptist Church at Millmead.

Its open layout and large windows certainly make it worthy of notice. This is the home of Guildford Baptist Church (known as Millmead church), and after a 10-year renovation project, it is finally finished.

It was clear walking round, that every aspect of the church was intentionally designed. Each room speaks to the central ethos of the church, that this is a space for everyone and anyone to come.

As senior pastor Ian Stackhouse said: “We are a big community, there are around 500 in the church, and that’s intergenerational and we have members from about 30 different nationalities. It’s welcoming to anyone. It’s really a place to belong.”

The front of the church is fitted with an attractive patio surrounded by grass and flower beds (planted by members of the church). There is a large balcony area, for people to sit when they come to the new, appropriately named, Open Grounds Café.

The entryway is designed to be soft and open; a signal to the community. Anyone is welcome to go in.

As you walk in, you are greeted with a bright and modern café area, with big comfy sofas and armchairs. Down a corridor, there is a newly installed kitchen area, designed for catering on a large scale.

Church events, such as meals, are invaluable when it comes to building community and fellowship within a church.

To the right of the room, you will notice a toilet for disabled people. The charity Through the Roof, which supports people with disabilities, recently granted the church an award for its efforts to provide good (not just adequate) facilities for the disabled. This is another testament to the intentional inclusivity written into the very design of the building.

The auditorium at Guildford Baptist Church, simple and sleek.

Like every room in the church, the auditorium is renovated to look both simple and sleek. With plenty of warm lighting, the room has no hint of being dingy. Its attractive simpleness makes it an inviting place to come to a Sunday service.

Churches can often be bustling places, especially one that is a community hub for 500 members. So, it was important to Ian, that the renovations included a room for a chapel.

This is a room set apart for quietness. It needed to be safe from the noise and movement of the world, for contemplation and prayer.

The chapel at Guildford Baptist Church.

For this reason, the chapel does not have the large windows, characteristic of many other rooms in the church. The walls are high, providing a sense of peaceful seclusion. Yet the cleverly designed curvature of the walls and ceiling still allow natural light to flood in from the top.

The design incorporates freshness ad gentleness beautifully. A wooden altar table and lectern were created for the chapel to invoke images of a crucified and resurrected Jesus.

This is a church building 10 years in the making, and not a single aspect of its architecture was neglected. Even the corridors and stairwells were built specifically to look pleasing, with the thinking that these are naturally places of connection and meeting.

The ethos of community and hospitality truly radiates through every brick.

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