New report highlights urgent help needed for Cumbria’s churches
The most comprehensive study of church buildings in Cumbria ever undertaken reveals that many are now in urgent need of help.
The Churches Trust for Cumbria (CTfC) – an organization set up in 2008 which supports faith communities and recognizes the value of church buildings - has conducted the independent survey.
The survey shows that:
• Only 1 in 5 churches are used more than once a week and half of all churches have financial concerns.
• Congregations are ageing (less than 7% of people attending church are younger than 18 years old) and getting smaller (the average congregation is 20 or less).
• In rural communities a faithful few are determinedly maintaining their church, but buildings need people. The survey shows the strongest guarantee of health is the commitment of a group of people.
The report will be officially launched at the county's ecumenical Clergy Day which is being held at Rheged near Penrith today (Wednesday 14 October).
Church leaders are calling out to communities, local government, businesses and others to work to support their local church.
Bryan Gray, chairman of the Churches Trust for Cumbria, said: “If we want church buildings to remain a central and essential part of our communities, everyone needs to get involved.
“We need more volunteers – not just those who attend church – and recognition from local government, community organisations and businesses that churches are a fundamental part of our Cumbrian communities.
“Church buildings are integral to Cumbria’s heritage and, together with the local school, shop and pub, help to create and sustain communities.”
Against this background, action is being taken with three denominations (Anglicans, Methodists and the United Reformed Church) working together to achieve a strategy for growth through the God for All vision.
That vision has the aim that by 2020 everyone in Cumbria has had an opportunity to know the reality of God and God’s purpose in their lives.
As part of God for All, Mission Communities are being formed – local churches from all traditions working together to create critical mass and to focus on new approaches to worship and church life. They will be able to draw on the results of the survey to help make decisions about their buildings.
The CTfC Report sets out ideas for action. These include making churches more attractive for use (half of all churches are closed during the week and one third have no toilets), and better equipped for community use as meeting places, home delivery drop-off points, libraries, cafes and social meeting places. The Report gives examples of best practice and sources of help.
The full report, ‘Church Buildings Survey report 2015’ is available here.
Notes to editors:
The Churches Trust for Cumbria was established in 2008 as a charitable trust, supported with funding from the North West Development Agency and the National Churches Trust. Unlike most counties, Cumbria has never had a Historic Churches Trust: CTfC fills that gap, taking a new approach to supporting faith communities. This new approach recognises and values the contribution that church buildings and church communities make to society in Cumbria, beyond their core purpose as places of worship.
For more information visit www.ctfc.org.uk or contact the Ven Richard Pratt on 07788 728508 or Bryan Gray on 07802 950222.