Here are some brief accounts of churches that have succesfully adapted for wider use. To see comprehensive case studies please follow the links at the foot of the page.
Waterloo, St John (Diocese of Southwark)
For many years the steps of St John's were used as a gathering point for social drinking. This intimidated users of the building and the general public. With much hard work between the church, the local authority and the police the churchyard was made a controlled drinking zone and this was then enforced. The result has released the front of the church for a daytime food court that serves the local community, and includes special rates for students. It has made a considerable difference to the perception of the church even to people just walking by.
Inside the extensive crypt is used by organisations that help release potential – for example a mosaic studio that works with pupils excluded from school, a theatre company working with schools and young people and a training orchestra for emerging professional musicians. Three days a week the church is used for orchestral rehearsal – which realises sufficient income to employ a verger to keep the building open every day.
A chapel for prayer is kept available when the church is open.
Revd Canon Giles Goddard
Dunwich, St James (Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich)
The Suffolk coastal village of Dunwich attracts visitors walking the coastal path and visiting the nearby ruined friary and leper chapel. The church is kept open daily and a new porch gives visitors the opportunity to see into the building before they enter. Although often unstaffed a sense of welcome is extended with the provision of a kettle and all that is needed to make a warm drink and a leave a donation.
Loughton, St Mary (Diocese of Chelmsford)
St Mary's redevelopment scheme completely opened up the front of the Church onto the busy High Road. Our Cafe faces the High Road and gives direct access into the Church. This really attracts many people and they join our mid-week service and toddler Church service. It has given us an opportunity to listen to many people who are on their own or in need and we have seen many who came in for a coffee becoming involved with the Church and making a commitment to God or re-finding their faith.
Amanda Hart, Parish Administrator
Kingston-upon-Thames, All Saints (Diocese of Southwark) is on the market square and is normally open. The church has a ring of bells, and traditionally has not rung on Saturdays to avoid disturbing the traders. On a rare Saturday peal the number of visitors to the church increased significantly and there were no complaints. Is your church open when the ringers are attempting a peal?
Algarkirk, St Peter and St Paul (Diocese of Lincoln)
Our church had been locked everyday, except for Sunday worship, up until the summer of 2012. During the time it was locked the church was visited and seen by nobody outside the small congregation. We suffered vandalism; lead theft; the deterioration of the building and its interior; and the accumulation of clutter around the church. We took the decision to open because we wanted to share our church with more people. Since opening we have welcomed visitors from all over the world; held a Big Clean Up event; established a programme of events and activities to be held in the church; begun using the church for book-swaps as there is no local library; improved the atmosphere in the church immeasurably and embarked upon a huge repair and conservation project. We still have much to do to secure our church for future generations, but by opening the church everyday so that people can come in and enjoy it, we know it will be worth it.
Di Reid, Algarkirk PCC
St George-in-the-East (Diocese of London) is an East End Hawksmoor church, but with a post-Blitz interior with little to steal or vandalise. We are committed to keeping the church open even when unstaffed, and many comments in the visitors' book thank us for this, in comparison with their experience elsewhere: 'an oasis of peace and light' is a typical entry. Despite our inner urban setting, we have fewer problems than when church was locked. Staying open is also an important witness to our Muslim-majority neighbours
Revd Canon Michael Ainsworth
For more comprehensive case studies follow the links: