On Thursday 12 June, peers in the House of Lords debated ‘The Importance of the English Parish church’, a motion moved by Lord Cormack.
Amongst the peers who spoke were Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Bishop of Norwich.
For two and a half hours peers stressed the importance of our churches, not only in historical and architectural terms but also in relation to their value at the heart of communities and across faiths.
Lord Lloyd Webber praised the artwork that churches contain and there was encouragement for a new fund to support the care of these treasures in the style of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Lord Berkeley drew on the cultural contribution parish churches make through music, holding festivals and nurturing musicians. The Bishop of Norwich outlined the important social outreach that churches perform hosting night shelters and foodbanks to debt advice and caring for women in street prostitution. Lord Cormack in his introduction also raised the trouble that colonies of bats cause rural congregations which other peers made reference to.
In terms of changes Baronness McIntosh suggested that developers ought to contribute towards parish churches, as their developments extend the size of the parish, and increase demand on the community support that churches provide. Another suggestion was for the provision of wifi and apps both to support interpretation of the history of church buildings and their contents, but also for use for mission and social outreach.
The full transcript can be accessed online here.