Results of the Church of England’s 2005 Parochial Returns reveal an encouraging growth in the number of churches open and with facilities to cater for visitors and community users.
Only a minority are now closed to visitors outside service times.
As part of the 2005 Parochial Returns, parishes were asked two ‘one-off questions’ as follows:
- What facilities do you have inside your church building? Toilet/WC? Kitchen?
- How many hours in a typical week (incl Sun) are your churches unlocked and open to casual visitors?
- Are your churches open?:
– while services/activities take place
– at other times with someone in attendance
– at other times with no one in attendance
– locked by key readily available nearby
– locked and key available by appointment
The results have now been processed and nationally these figures indicate that half the Church of England’s churches are now open for more than 10 hours a week and many for longer, while only 20 per cent are always closed to casual visitors outside service times.
This wider opening is something the Archbishops’ Council’s Cathedral and Church Buildings Division has been encouraging for some time, not least in Building Faith in our Future (2004) which put forward many positive suggestions to show how church congregations, as well as outside partners, could help sustain the great potential of church buildings to serve present and future communities.
And in respect of facilities, the same survey also indicated that some 44 per cent of churches now have toilets and some 37 per cent have kitchen facilities.
Clearly, churches are taking increasingly seriously their role to serve those outside the congregation as well as those inside; adding and improving facilities to welcome even more uses and cementing their important role at the centre of communities.