In 2007, it was agreed that the church needed extensive repair.  The heating worked sporadically; the paint was badly weathered and peeling; the carpets and pew cushions were in very poor condition; the organ, potentially a fine instrument, was bronchitic.  Structurally, the building was sound.  After extensive talks, people agreed that comprehensive refurbishment was required.

Congregation members visited several recently refurbished churches to gather ideas and learn from their experience.  They all gave us the same advice and it served us well …

  • Take professional advice
  • Set a firm budget and make it clear to everyone
  • Plan thoroughly and do not change the design once work has started
  • Keep the project on budget and on time

In addition to modernising the church, we wanted to produce a space that the whole community could use for cultural and social events, to supplement and support Carlops Village Centre.

Rosalind Taylor, of the Tod and Taylor practice, was appointed architect.   She consulted the Kirk Session and the assembled congregation, then proposed a design that met our objectives, suited our budget, and was liked by everyone.

The plans were publicised throughout the parish.  We put considerable thought and effort into raising the £125,000 needed for the project.  That may not seem a large sum, but Carlops is a parish of only 180 households.  Using the Church’s financial reserves was ruled out, as there was no prospect of restoring them later.  We applied for grants successfully, thanks to a carefully prepared business plan. And we appealed directly to everyone in our community, explaining our plans and setting out proposals and promises about how a refurbished church would serve the whole community.

We invited everyone in our parish to supper.  In addition to food and drink, we provided an exhibition of our plans and designs, then asked very directly for financial support.  Carlops people were spontaneously and heart-warmingly generous. We thank the community for its financial and moral support.  The Treasurer reported that our financial target was met in just three weeks!

We also thank the organisations who provided grant funding.  

The Baird Trust
The Church of Scotland, General Trustees
The Ferguson Bequest Fund
The Orcome Trust
The Pilgrim Trust
Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd

We received valuable support from the Church of Scotland’s Stewardship department  whose staff advised on fund-raising strategies and guided us through the process.

With the funds in place, we handed over the building to contractors in September 2008 and received it back in March 2009. 

We re-opened the refurbished church with a festival of events in March and April 2009, honouring from the outset our promise that the church would serve Carlops in a variety of roles.  In addition to services of celebration and dedication, the church housed an art exhibition, an Easter workshop for children, an organ recital and a buffet reception for all who contributed.