Global religious group's plans to build new church hall in Ellon are approved
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
A religious group with a large global following has been given the go-ahead to build a new church hall in Ellon – but who are they?
The Jesmond Gospel Hall Trust had applied to Aberdeenshire Council in a bid to construct the purpose-built facility on Balmacassie Brae.
Despite some concerns that the location was not “appropriate”, local authority planning chiefs rubber-stamped the proposal.
Now approved, the hall will be found behind the town’s Tesco superstore, next to the household waste recycling centre and around the corner from BrewDog’s brewery.
Plans for the hall were submitted earlier this year on behalf of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, a group which has 50,000 members located across the world.
The church hopes to welcome members of its congregation to the Ellon venue early next year.
The brethren was formed in Plymouth back in the early 19th century and believe the Holy Bible is the true Word of God.
Its members say they are “deeply family-oriented” and the church community is held together by their Christian belief.
The church congregation regularly meet on Sundays to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and preach the Gospel.
However, the mainstream Christian church has been forced to deny allegations of operating as a secretive cult, insisting its members “extensively engage with the wider community on a daily basis”.
Group leaders argued the Ellon venue was needed to hold “specific services, for which numbers must be strictly limited”.
They said it was “essential” to have small gatherings of no more than 45 people as each member actively takes part in its services.
However, the hall will not be leased out for use by other organisations for social events.
Services are expected to be held in the new Aberdeenshire hall on Sunday mornings and Monday evenings.
It will also be used for gospel preachings on Sunday afternoons.
In the north-east, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church operates in Peterhead and Balmedie.
The religious group was recently given permission to open a “members-only” shop in Kinross called Campus & Co.
But only full members of the church will be allowed to enter the premises.
Profits from the store will be donated to the Caledonia One School Global in Alloa – also run by the brethren.
The church also has bases in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Kirkcaldy.
Meanwhile, it boasts 50,000 members located across the world including Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States.
A spokesman said the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church was “pleased” that the Ellon hall plan had been approved.
He added: “After many years of searching for a suitable location, this new Gospel Hall will now deliver a much-needed place of worship for our local congregation.
“The new Gospel Hall will soon enhance the appearance of this underutilised location through a sensitive design that reflects the local area’s character.
“As a mainstream Christian Church whose members live by values of care, charity and compassion, this new Gospel Hall will also play an important role in coordinating our extensive charitable activities in the local area and across the region.”