"In September 2020, Islay Baptist Church gratefully received a grant from the Empowering Change Fund. In the year that followed, we used this and donations from church members, to redevelop our church buildings at 2 sites (Bowmore and Port Ellen), which were in great need of repair.
In Bowmore, we put in a new kitchen. For the first time, a cooker and oven were installed as well as a microwave. This alongside a new sink unit and built-in cupboards has given us a facility that greatly increases the scope of our work. We are already seeing the fruit to this. A monthly men’s breakfast has begun. This has provided a space for men to talk openly and receive prayer. Amongst the fellowship and laughter a significant step has been made to improve mental health and further discipleship. We also use the kitchen to prepare food for a weekly Drop-In. This event has helped us to extend the fringe of a church and build deeper relationships with members of our community. We have seen new people at the church as a result."
"It was in Port Ellen that most of the money was spent to replace windows, electrics and solve a damp problem. We have redeveloped this building into a welcoming and comfortable space, with new double glazing, a new air-source heating system and chairs instead of pews. The work at Port Ellen has enabled us to host many new activities. We have a weekly Teen Café and Youth Club now in the building. Each week we have twenty young people who we had no contact with before. We have regular family church services which utilise the more flexible space. In the Summer, we were able to host our annual Scripture Union Beach Mission inside when there was bad weather; something we would have been unable to do previously.
Since doing the work, we have seen our church grow in number, largely due to the new activities we are now able to host. Our buildings are also warmer and more inviting making them a more attractive location for the local community to come into. In addition to our own work, we are allowing non-profit community groups to use our buildings free of charge. We see this as Christian service of our neighbours.
Islay Baptist Church is a very small church. We currently have 13 members and about 35 meeting regularly for worship. The church gave incredibly generously to this work, but there was no way we could have afforded the work required without the generosity of the grant we received."