Getting back into the swing of work after our holiday in Venice. A tough transition!
A note from Rev David Houlton one of our rural officer for the diocese gave me great joy. All this month there is an initiative called Voices in Craven which is encouraging local people to engage with their local churches. Throughout June there will be a number of vocal performance events of various flavours – these range from Jazz performances to traditional church music.
You can read more here
I think it’s wonderful when our village churches are used for the enjoyment of the community, particularly for creative pursuits and things that encourage participation. The idea that these beautiful buildings are sometimes unused apart from Sunday services is a terrible shame. Beautiful old churches, in my view, are places that should be owned by the whole community and are really part of the shared historical heritage.
The perception we somehow give is that faith is exercised only in a special building and at a special time of the week. The faith communities do sometimes bunker themselves up in their church buildings, it seems to me. The celebration of faith, I think, should take place anywhere Christians live and work – on the high street, in the fields or the places of work and study. The church sometimes seems preoccupied by getting more and more people into their building on a Sunday morning and into formal membership at the expense of generous unconditional engagement with the local communities and the wider world. The huge focus on what happens on Sunday morning I feel is a distraction from a more integrated expression of faith. There are many exceptions though.
My plea would be for parish churches to be even more supportive of Christians who are working out in their communities and to broaden the range of community activities and people using the church buildings – perhaps even on a commercial business footing! Concerts, art exhibitions, public meetings – anything that would be enlivened by these wonderful spaces, and potentially leading to new connections.