An Aberdeenshire church congregation will finally have a home to call their own after holding services in a leisure centre for nearly 22 years.
The Balmedie Congregational Church is set to open by the summer, with work starting on the Rowan Drive site in the town on March 30.
And for Reverend Andy Cowie, the journey to the construction stage has taken the group more than two decades of fighting through local authority “red tape” – while holding services with other members at Balmedie Leisure Centre.
The small church group already has the planning permission required to begin the work and the finished building should have space for around 50 people after construction is complete.
The congregation raised £45,000 for the building, which will be built in the most cost effective way possible.
Former Merchant Navy officer and police sergeant, Mr Cowie, 66, said: “Balmedie Church itself was established in 1993 and we have been trying to build a building for almost as long as that time and every time we get through officialdom the cost disappears in front of us.
“It has been a long, long, long journey. The faith we have had, the perseverance we have had, we are looking forward to getting the building so we can do things for the community.
“Balmedie Leisure Centre have been very good over the years.”
However, the project is also the culmination of a life-long dream for builder Jim Still, whose construction firm JCS Construction Services will carry out the work.
Mr Cowie, of Bridge of Don, said: “He met with me and I said this is how much money we have got. It was £45,000, we sat around the table and he had always wanted to build a church. He envisioned a big church. He was beginning to think it would never happen so we started and hit all sorts of red tape.
“The council was extremely helpful. We have had various false starts over the years and a support from the Balmedie Community Trust and the local councillor Paul Johnston has been very supportive.
“It is going to allow us to do things we couldn’t before, you are not in control if you don’t use your own building as a church.”
Congregational churches are run autonomously by the local members but Balmedie would form part of the Scottish Congregational Fellowship.