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Future of most churches is viable — if they serve communities, says NCT

MOST churches can have a viable future, provided that congregations are willing to engage with their communities, Sir Paul Britton, who chairs the grants committee for the National Churches Trust (NCT), says.

Writing in the NCT annual review, published on Saturday, however, he warns: “Our splendid inheritance of churches is under great threat from dwindling congregations, probably to be accentuated by the current pandemic.

“One fears that many churches currently closed will never reopen. Some people in the Church of England in particular see this as an opportunity to be rid of the buildings which they regard as an encumbrance. That seems to me to be a mistake, and I say this not just as someone who admires these buildings but as a committed Anglican.

“The importance of the National Churches Trust and other organisations which campaign for our churches and chapels has therefore never been greater. But despite the threatening horizon, I remain optimistic that the great majority can have a viable future, provided that their congregations are willing to engage with their communities and make these buildings useful for both secular and religious purposes.

“Luckily, that is now widely understood, not least because of the Trust’s efforts.”

A report, The House of Good, published by the NCT in October 2020, estimated the economic and social value of church buildings to be £12.4 billion each year — a figure that equates roughly to the total NHS spending in England on mental health in 2018 (News, 23 October 2020). It represents an average of £300,000 per church building. These buildings “provide the social glue that keeps our communities together”, the report concluded.

Read the full article by visiting Church Times.