David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Saturday, November 11, 2006

SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN - Why England's churches need our help

I have just read a brilliant article in the autumn edition of Countryside Voice, the magazine for members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, written by Simon Thurley, the CEO of English Heritage. He explains what needs to be done to give our country's churches a future. Simon writes that churches are very much a recognised part of the English countryside, and the intricacy and individual character of each one is celebrated by congregations and visitors alike. But as repair bills mount and communities fade, we must fight to stop them disappearing from the skyline. I can relate to his sentiments as my local church will be 700 years old in 2011 and it is a never ending battle to preserve its fabric and structure for future generations. We are currently endeavouring to raise £10,000 to repair a leaking roof. According to Simon there are 14,500 listed places of worship throughout England, the majority of which are parish churches. Each one has a story to tell of past times and a history of our heritage which is both precious and priceless. Desperate needs require desperate measures. Sheepy Magna in Leicestershire, for example, was threatened with a massive church repair bill and the closure of its village shop and post office. By turning the church vestry into a post office they were able to save two important village services while restoring the church to its traditional position at the centre of the community. Now that is novel! Research by English Heritage, which involved a number of places of worship across the country, has identified that £925 million needs to be spent on essential repairs to listed churches over the next five years - 60% more than is spent now. Declining congregations do not have the ability to cope in raising this sort of money despite their best efforts. Grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund help some but by no means enough. Simon Thurley says churches touch so many lives, be it through christenings, marriages, funerals, services or even secular events. With so much social history and heritage at stake, now is the time to rebuild the crumbling walls and dilapidated spires and ensure that this vital feature of England's countryside does not disappear from the skyline. Even non-believers are known to value the history and heritage of these ancient buildings and feel a sense of community ownership which they would not wish to see disappear by neglect. "Inspired!" is an English Heritage-led campaign designed to draw attention to the many issues threatening the survival of England's historic places of worship. It seeks, amongst other things, to obtain more Government funding to address the immediate needs and to start the debate on the future of church buildings. I have posted this item on my blog journal to encourage that debate. For more information about the campaign please visit www.english-heritage.org.uk

1 comment:

DirkStar said...

I, like so many of you who have been touched by the Diary of Anne Dirk, was saddened to learn of her death at the hands of the S.S. Neocons. Although her life’s flame was brief, it burned strong and shone with a bright light of hope for the future.

Anne Dirk was born to liberal parents during the twelve year Republican war against Amerika. Christian Conservatives, Republicans and the Neocons combined forces to become what has been labeled by history as,”The Asses-of-Evil.”

It was a dark period in Amerikan history, hopefully one that will not be repeated. On Tuesday of this week I will be opening the Liberal Holocaust Museum. In twelve years of Republican occupation many of us lost a loved one to the conservative horror. I hope this blog will prove to be a place of healing where each of us can leave a post in remembrance of a fallen friend, comrade or family member. This will be our Vietnam wall.

Thanks to everyone who shared their feelings during the posting of Anne’s diary. It was a labor of love translating her words and bringing to life a forgotten spirit.