CHURCHGOERS gathered at the weekend to mark the opening of a £700,000 creative arts centre.
Loughton Methodist Church's new LifeWorks building was formally opened on Saturday (September 15).
The centre - which sits behind the High Road church and is connected to the existing Wesley Hall - includes a drama studio, creative arts studios, office, kitchen and courtyard.
It is designed to be almost carbon neutral, with solar-heated water, under-floor heating and eco-friendly LED lights throughout.
LifeWorks will also provide a home for the Christian Drama Resource Centre (CDRC), a charity set up by church member Andrea Moles to provide theatrical costumes on loan and education and storytelling workshops for schools, churches and community groups.
The building project has been funded by grants and donations, including £167,000 from the Methodist Forest Circuit. A further £250,000 was given by an anonymous donor to be used to support the work of CDRC.
Church minister Rev Tony Morling said: "To be building a new church has been an act of faith and we are so proud of our new building."
Loughton mayor Stephen Pewsey, who attending the opening, congratulated church members on completing the building in a 'very difficult economic time'.
He added: "There has been a Methodist Church in Loughton since 1885 and its outreach has been guiding and inspiring this town ever since."
The centre is expected to house several community groups and offer a range of activities. For further information, contact Andrea Moles or Stephanie Wrench on 0208 508 7048 or visit www.loughtonmethodist.org.uk .