Early Christmas Present for Milford Community
- On December 1, 2022
Milford and District Resource Centre (MDRC) were delighted to announce this week that the Milford Reformed Presbyterian Church have gifted their former church building on the Kilmacrennan Road to the Milford Community. The transfer of ownership happened just in time for Christmas.
“This is a hugely significant gift to the wider Milford community from the Reformed Presbyterian Church” said Declan Meehan, Manager of Milford & District Resource Centre. “We approached the church earlier this year with a proposal to put the building, which has been vacant for four years, into community ownership, and the response from the elders and pastors was immediately positive. Milford has always struggled with availability of, and access to, community space and, in particular, within our own building at the top of the town, we have not been able to offer community activities, services and programmes which are needed. The gifting of this building to the community through MDRC is a once in a generation opportunity for the town and will allow us to develop an accessible, town-centre facility that meets the needs of everyone who lives here. We are so grateful to the Reformed Presbyterian congregation, and we are extremely excited about the potential and the impact the development of this building will have on Milford for decades to come. I’d like to thank our own Board of Directors and staff at MDRC for their contribution to getting this over the line as well.”
Pastor Mark Loughridge said “We didn’t want to see the building fall into ruin, and when the opportunity came to donate it to the community it really ticked all of our boxes. The church is the people, but there are still a lot of memories in the building. People were married here, people had funerals here, people had their baptisms here. They sat here week after week for over 180 years. For all those reasons we wanted to have some life, and some future, in the building. It now has a second chance at life. We were really pleased that the congregation were unanimous in their desire to see the building handed over and put to good use. It shows the heart of the congregation, and this building will now have a new purpose in the heart of the village.”
Pastor Jonny McCollum shared his thoughts also “We’re really happy that the community is going to get some good use out of the building. It served the congregation for many, many years, and hopefully it will serve the wider community for many years too.”
This building will be a fantastic community asset for everyone to avail of, with potential for various uses. It will be an inclusive and accessible space for groups to meet, community events, coffee mornings, craft fairs, performances, community education initiatives and more. The possibilities are almost endless for a space of this size. A public consultation will take place in the coming weeks and months, both in person and online to ensure everyone has an opportunity to share their ideas for the community space.
As the building has not been used in several years, significant repairs will need to be undertaken, and as a community organisation Milford & District Resource Centre are well placed to apply for funding opportunities to renovate and repurpose this wonderful space. As well as funding opportunities, MDRC will also run fundraising campaigns to help cover the costs of some of the necessary works.
“The building requires a lot of work” said Meehan, “but we can see that, in time, this will be a fantastic, much-needed asset for the community. We are also committed, as part of our renovations of this building, to preserve its character and heritage, as well as the history of the Covenanter community in this area.”
The church building was built in 1837 after the amalgamation of the congregations based in meeting houses in Ramelton and Ballygay, Milford. The current layout includes several rooms within the building: the main church hall, another large activity hall, a kitchen, bathrooms and storage areas. Previous refurbishment work took place in 1926 and 2005, with further work now planned for 2023.
MDRC would once again like to express their thanks to Pastors Mark and Jonny, the elders, and all of the congregation who made this possible. The Reformed Presbyterian Church is now located at their new home in units 1 and 2 of the Milford Retail Park.