The Moderator of the General Assembly has officially re-opened an Aberdeen church which has undergone a £1.7million transformation.
Right Rev Dr Derek Browning was the guest preacher at a special Easter Sunday rededication service at Queen’s Cross Church in the west end of the city.
And he said it was an “absolute honour and privilege” to be invited to lead a service that celebrated the climax of the new venture.
The interior of the church halls has been transformed into a modern community centre.
It comprises a redeveloped pre-school nursery, outdoor play area, and flexible activity space which will be used by a wide variety of groups such as senior citizens and those with special needs and living with dementia.
Dr Browning said: “Queen’s Cross Church is a welcoming, inclusive congregation that has shown courage and resilience by committing to the future with this new development.
“It shows faith in action and hope turned into reality, while making such a positive statement about the future.”
The development also features an artisan coffee shop which will sell high quality drinks and food.
Operated by Aberdeen firm Cognito, it will be used as a venue for discussions on subjects as varied as the sciences and expressive arts.
Work to raise money for the project started seven years ago and the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland provided Queen’s Cross Church with a £400,000 loan.
Rev Scott Rennie, minister at the church, added: “I am immensely pleased that years of work and toil have brought us to the point that the Moderator has officially opened the halls.
“It is a significant investment by the Church of Scotland and will provide a fantastic springboard for the congregation to open up to the local community for the next 20-30 years.
“We have built a new glass entrance onto Albyn Place which makes the church more transparent to the wider community.”
Mr Rennie, Scotland’s first openly gay minister, expressed his hope that the church halls will be viewed by people from all walks of life as a place for them to “go into as I am”.
He added: “It will provide a non-threatening space for people to see a community that exists within the wider local community and make connections and relationships with people.”
Queen’s Cross Church, which was built in 1881, plans to hold an open day in June.
Dr Browning said: “There are those who want to write a story of decline and retreat about the Church.
“But what I have seen as I have travelled around the country is a re-thinking of what the Church needs to be in the 21st century.
“No one-size-fits-all pattern will meet all needs, which is why it is wonderful to see many different responses, including this redevelopment at Queen’s Cross.”