Drumcree Church is set to build a much-needed car park after a “very generous” anonymous donation of around £200,000 from a parishioner.
The car park is one of a number of improvements planned for the church, which are intended to improve safety and comfort.
The Rector, the Rev Gary Galway, said an agreement to buy a field adjoining the rear of the church was set to be signed within the next week or two, and it was hoped to have the car park in operation by the summer.
Said Mr Galway, “We have received a very generous donation to allow us to purchase the land.
“At the moment, we have no car park and people have to park out on the road.
“Even before Christmas, we had some cars damaged because of the narrowness between vehicles and we have a couple of children whose parents have had to grab them from going out between parked cars.
“We are still waiting for planning permission for the car park but don’t anticipate any difficulties as Roads Service are behind it because of the safety aspect.”
Part of the land will also be used in the future to extend the graveyard.
Another aspect of the plan is the erection of a linkway between the church and parochial hall, leading directly from the car park.
This is designed to improve safety for children going to and from Sunday School and provide an information and welcome area.
There are also plans to expand the stage at the front of the church, enabling the choir and expanding youth organisations to take part in services more easily.
A biomass heating system will also be installed, which will generate an income for the church under the renewable heat incentive scheme.
This will involve underfloor pipes and a new solid floor being installed.
Explained Mr Galway, “Under the present heating system, the pipes are roasting and if a child grabbed them they could be badly burned.”
The installation of underfloor heating means the pews will have to be removed and, as it will not be possible to replace them, new pew seats will be installed in their place.
Mr Galway added, “At the moment we have a number of different styles of service to connect with different people.
“Our numbers have been increasing and we are trying to build a church that’s fit for purpose for future generations.”