Bethany Community Church is a non-denominational church anchored in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle, with a rich history dating back to 1916. The Miller Hull Partnership was engaged to study the church’s needs and facilities to develop a program, site master plan, and to design Phase 1 of the master plan for a minimum 600 seat sanctuary. Other spaces placed in the new building were nursery rooms, a choir room, a welcoming lobby and flexible educational space.
In the new worship space, the altar has become a stage. Wide and broad, it can be used for many events, sometimes occupied simultaneously by the choir, a band and the minister. At times during the week, concerts and plays are held in the space. All of these uses are backed by a sophisticated audio visual system, an integrated projection screen and theater lighting. The seating configuration is non-traditional and community oriented, creating more immediacy with wider and closer seating.
The sanctuary was designed with large windows to create visibility between the congregation and the neighborhood. This required balancing the desire for natural light and the need for adequate light levels to view projected images. A 30 foot tall door at the stage enables adjustment of sunlight into the space. Additionally a dramatic sunlit aperture at the back of the stage brings muted sunlight in, highlights the cross and provides an on-stage entry from behind. Carefully placed vegetation outside the sanctuary windows creates a buffer while providing some visibility and brings the natural world into the sanctuary. The lobby has become a social hall. With a backdrop of curved brick and a colonnade of glass and concrete columns, it opens out to the terrace and residential street, further reinforcing the church’s connection to its neighborhood.