A historic church in Scotland with links to author Agatha Christie and Hollywood actress Kim Cattrall has undergone a £150,000 refurbishment.
St Cuthbert's Parish Church in Edinburgh has created a more flexible, multi-purpose space to ensure it is better equipped to serve its community.
"We just felt that the current church, which is a very beautiful sanctuary, needed a bit more flexibility with regards to our outreach to the homeless and the business communities in Edinburgh," Rev Peter Sutton told Premier.
"[It is] also a chance for the congregation to explore new ways of worshipping, new ways of using a space that they're familiar with."
The church sits on the oldest Christian site in the city dating back 1400 years. Agatha Christie married her second husband, Max Mallowan, in the church's Memorial Chapel in 1930 and each year, a candle is lit in memory of Christopher Cattrall, the late brother of the British/Canadian Kim Cattral. In early 2008, the actress visited the church with her partner Russell Thomas not long after her brother died.
The reforms include the installation of a new floor and audio-visual system with large screens discretely located under the gallery. Most of the pews have been replaced with free-standing chairs.
Rev Sutton went on to explain that it was the experience of lockdown that caused the church's leadership to think "big about the church" and to ensure that the church was in "as strong a position and as robust and fit for purpose coming out of lockdown as we possibly could be".
A new "wet-room" with shower and toilet have also been fitted to better meet the needs of the Sunday evening congregation which includes 100 rough sleepers.
On Sundays, the church partners with Steps to Hope, an Edinburgh-based charity that helps those suffering with homelessness and addiction, to provide a hot meal and showers on the church's premises.
It was because of that very partnership that St Cuthbert's was allowed to remain open during the national lockdowns as the council agreed that both the charity and the church were vital for the provision of the homeless.
"So, every Sunday, I would go down to some St Cuthbert's [but] not as the minister - I would go down as the volunteer from Steps to Hope, with the key to open up the church so that we could put into practice what we would normally preach from the pulpit, namely, making sure that everyone was looked after, and welcome in whatever form the presence of Jesus Christ," Rev Sutton continued.
The church will be hosting an art exhibition about sustainability in anticipation of the COP26 UN climate change conference being held in Glasgow in November.