23 September 2023

Renovation creates welcoming space for Bentleigh community

Kirralee Nicolle

24 August 2022

A church in Melbourne’s southeast is enjoying the benefits of a newly-renovated building.

Parishioners at St John’s Bentleigh recently celebrated the unveiling of a new entrance, as well as an upgraded kitchen, stage and flooring. Since 2020, members of the church arranged for the removal of asbestos in the church and hall, upgraded the toilets, ceiling, lighting, windows and sound equipment.

The renovations had made the space very welcoming to the community, vicar-in-charge Reverend Santa Packianathan said.

He said he hoped it would lead more people to come to church.

“It’s not a frightening place, it’s a safe place to be,” he said.

The building works for the latest set of renovations at St John’s Bentleigh began in 2020 but faced a number of setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Packianathan said the parish’s former incumbent, the Reverend Dr David Powys, was an instrumental part of starting the renovation process. The congregation also managed to raise $130,000 to fund the upgrades through a series of events including a high tea, art show and talent night.

As part of the upgrade, the church hall was also named Pickford Hall. Mr Packianathan said that the late Tom and Marj Pickford had been core long-term members of the church community and the parish council wished to recognise them by renaming the hall in their honour.

Archbishop of Melbourne the Most Reverend Philip Freier attended the opening event on 21 August and unveiled the new hall name.

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