'Crossing the Threshold: a step by step guide to developing your place of worship for wider community use and managing successful building projects', offers step-by-step guidance for parishes beginning to consider making changes to their buildings and who have a vision of opening up their church buildings for wider community use.
The toolkit sets out a process to ensure that the historic and liturgical requirements of a place of worship are balanced with community use. It also provides links to up to date resources to ensure new facilities are as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as possible.
The toolkit will help you prepare the ground when developing your vision, consulting the community and organising your team. It will encourage you to look at various options when developing your ideas, and to balance the need for change with heritage and liturgical considerations. Finally, the toolkit will guide you through the process of delivering your project from writing a project plan to celebrating your successes.
Download your copy of the toolkit here.
Published by the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance (HRBA) in collaboration with the Diocese of Hereford, with the co-operation and assistance of ChurchCare, the National Stewardship Team, Church of England, Purcell and the National Churches Trust.
Historic floors can make a major contribution to the significance of a historic building so the first step before contemplating any change to a church floor should be to understand the importance of the floor.
In many cases sensitive repair will be sufficient to ensure that the floor is safe and useable in the long term and is retained as part of the essential character of the building. However in some cases a change of material or design may be appropriate and will require careful consideration.
This guidance note, published in conjunction with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, explains how to understand the significance of an historic floor and how to maintain and repair the different types of floors that exist. It gives detailed advice on the different options for replacing an historic floor as well as how to avoid some of the common pitfalls.
Major Parish Churches represent some of the most significant and well-loved places of worship in England. The Church Buildings Council (CBC) has identified 300 such churches across the country, which provided a “basket” from which case studies were chosen for the research project (see below).
These are exceptionally significant parish church buildings with a different scale of opportunities and challenges compared to the vast majority of the 12,267 listed Church of England church buildings.
A Major Parish Church has, in the opinion of the CBC, all or most of the following characteristics, whereby
possessing one of the first two means automatic recognition:
Inclusion on the list means simply that the CBC recognises a Major Parish Church as such and will offer the parish and
diocese individual advice and support; any significance attached to inclusion on the list by other organisations or individuals is a matter for them.
The CBC advises that all such churches by definition would benefit from a Conservation Management Plan (CMP), and will work to help them achieve this; any parish bidding for this status must be prepared to work with the CBC in this regard if no CMP is in place. See the CBC guidance on CMPs, which also gives a more detailed description of its criteria for Major Parish Churches.
The Major Parish Churches research project
The project partners – Historic England, Heritage Lottery Fund, the Greater Churches Network, the Church Buildings Council and Doncaster Minster (which initiated the project) – wanted to understand the potential and issues of Major
Parish Churches. This project has investigated the public perception of these buildings, their physical condition and the resources available to maintain, repair, manage and sustain them.
This research, funded by Historic England, provides a robust baseline of evidence based on a sample of Major Parish Churches from across the country. The research report was published in October 2016 and can be accessed from the Historic England website.
Proper maintenance of historic church floors is fundamental and may negate or reverse the need for replacement.
Click here for our Historic Floors Guidance note, published in conjunction with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, which provides detailed advice on the correct maintenance methods for difference types of historic flooring.
What is a Festival church?
The concept of “Festival Churches” (or sometimes Celebration Churches) has been gaining currency and was recommended in the Church Buildings Review Paper endorsed by Synod, and projects along these lines
have been launched or are being considered in several dioceses.
A Festival Church is a church building which is not used for weekly worship, but is still a local icon and community asset. It is valued and required by the community for local events and for the Festivals of the Church (most obviously Christmas, Easter and Harvest Festival, but also local festivals, Mothers’ Day, Remembrance Sunday, Rogation Days, etc) and for Rites of Passage (Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals).
A Festival Church can also accommodate appropriate complementary uses (community, cultural and commercial), which gives opportunities to reconnect the church building and congregation with the community if this connection has been weakened or lost.
Legal changes and changes to Canon B14(a) mean that a Festival Church can remain legally “open” as a parish church, while embracing this flexibility. Previously a parish church had to have its legal status changed by a closure scheme to be able to do this, which was unnecessarily expensive and complicated, and could cause pastoral harm.
This is emphatically not about “mothballing” – it is about using these buildings in a way that is appropriate to its community, and makes the most of the opportunities the building has to offer.
Common features of a Festival Church include:
Association of Festival churches
An association of Festival churches has been set up by the Church Buildings Council to give support and advice to parishes looking at the “Festival Churches” model. It has a standing committee based at Church House, London with members who have expertise in liturgy, law, and community outreach.
Parishes can choose to affiliate themselves (no cost) to the Association, which means they will get regular updates and materials sent to them, and can benefit from the experience and mutual support of other members.
Save the date
The next Association of Festival Churches conference will be held on the 25th March 2019 in Sheffield Cathedral, details tbc. We are very grateful to Dr Julie Banham who will be our host at Sheffield diocese.
By that time we expect that the amendments to Canons 11 and 14 will have had final approval at the February Synod. This amending canon makes it possible for a church to decide to officially become a Festival Church, vary its pattern of services and embrace flexible complementary uses and partnerships according to need. Legal advice will be forthcoming to explain how to do this, which will be discussed at the conference. This conference therefore marks the real Launch of Festival Churches, and we hope a step change in strategic planning at deanery and diocesan level, both for rural and urban churches. We look forward to seeing many of you there.
AFC conference 2017
The Association of Festival Churches working with the Diocese of Oxford held its annual gathering in the newly refurbished and reordered church of St Mary Magdalene Woodstock on November 30th 2017. This was an opportunity to hear about the work of Festival churches nationally, and to think through some of the issues facing the rural church and the future of rural buildings
Presentations from the speakers can be accessed below. One of the main outcomes was an initiative to set up a Facebook page for the AFC, and this can be accessed here
AFC conference 2016
The Association held it's inaugural conference at ChristChurch, Spitafields, London on 24th November 2016, and was hosted by Sir Tony Baldry, Chair of the AFC.
The conference discussed the current projects in the dioceses of Exeter, Norwich and Truro, and there were useful discussion held in working groups concentrating on three main matters where it was felt progress still needs to be made; insurance, maintenance and legal flexibility.
The programme and conference handouts and presentations can be found here: