Sunday, April 16, 2017

There is one sure way to save our ailing churches – give them away. Simon Jenkins

Spring lambs on the bank

I am listening to Kate Bush at the moment, her album 'Aerial', 2005. It was released such a long time ago.  I had been listening earlier on to Radio 3 Classic music and on a Sunday they play bird song with their records, as she does with her cooing wood pigeons.  There is a slight madness to Kate Bush songs, but all very individual.  It reminded me that  I had taped the song thrush singing away on a capstone yesterday, short but sweet.

Listening to the radio on the religious programme, Simon Jenkins was arguing for a reuse of our churches because of the bad attendance for services.  It does seem right that these beautiful stone buildings should be given another life when they are used but once a week, if that, our church is fortnightly.

'Whether this can be replicated at parish level must be doubted. But this issue of ownership surely can. As long as parish churches are seen as shrines belonging to a tiny minority of the community, any hope of wider commitment is pie in the sky. Struggling local churches must be secularised, desanctified. They must be vested in an endowed local trust or parish council that literally owns them, so they become community assets, for whose upkeep local rates can be levied, as with public parks and gardens. There will be many spills along the way. But these buildings cannot be demolished or nationalised. There is simply no alternative.'

I quite like the idea of churches being run by the parish council and local rates (voluntary) used to subsidise the upkeep of the church.  Churches in  medieval times were after all often the market place of their small villages.  There is a call by a local committee to have a new village hall, our present village hall is an old World War 1 hut, perfectly adequate to fulfil its function of serving two villages, ours and Marton (which only has chapels).  But the committee want to find half a million pounds for a new one.  Now that is a lot of money and maybe could be halved at least if the money was spent on refurbishing the site.

Now you have to admit it is not the most glamorous of huts, but it was placed here in 1921, already has a history of it own and maybe is a historic building in its own right.  You can see I am trying to convince myself here, that green paintwork is terrible and would have to go!  Marton also has a chapel which is used for village events, not sure who it belongs to though.

All in all Simon Jenkins argues a good case, we have beautiful churches but no attendance, we have to think the unthinkable, but also, and this very important, we have to have strong minded volunteers to run such centres, the quibbling that goes on in a village would demand strong argument in favour of reusing a church in a more friendly manner.

Festival churches

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