Save the Parish Campaign and the Mission in Revision paper GS2222.
Please respond to keep our churches open.
All bellringers will share a concern for the future of our church buildings and the bells we are privileged to ring. There are 16000 churches in the Church of England. Approximately 7000 have bells, 5500 have five or more ringable bells.
The Church of England’s numbers are falling, and congregations are getting older. Bishop John Inge’s 2015 report highlighted the challenge for the future of the Church of England’s buildings. The Covid pandemic has accelerated something which was going to happen anyway. Clearly something must be done. The questions are what and how.
The Mission in Revision paper (GS2222) is seen by some as means to simplify legislation and planning policy. By others it is a means to close churches, destroy the parish system and centralise power.
GS2222 talks about the Church of England comprising ‘tent people’ and ‘temple people’. The question is does the Church of England need its traditional buildings for its mission in the future?
The York University Centre for Christianity and Culture’s recent report on the effect of the pandemic stated clearly that over 75% of non-church goers wanted their churches to be open. Churches are the centre of the local community. Communities need their churches.
The Save the Parish Campaign was launched by Revd Marcus Walker on 3 August at St Bartholomew’s Smithfield, London. It quickly received coverage in the national media and was covered in the Ringing World, 27 August 2021, pp780-781.
GS2222 has been in a consultation phase, until 30 September, and everyone has had a right to respond to it. However it is a complex subject with many interrelated facets, so we have linked below not only the main documents but also media coverage. A response to GS2222 has been submitted by the Council on behalf of ringing generally. This draws on two specific points that bells can be part of keeping churches open, but also that if churches are going to close, bellringers need to be consulted early in the process so that the bells are considered and can be found a new home before it’s too late. The Council’s response can be found here. Whatever your views, we encourage you to read the documents in the links below.
This is an important opportunity to engage with your clergy and PCC. Find out what their problems are and see if there is anything we as ringers can do. Consider being on the PCC! The Council, through the Senior Stakeholder Workgroup will concentrate on engaging with the Church at higher levels. Simon Linford and I are speaking at the annual DAC Conference in September.
What to read:
The Mission in Revision Paper (GS2222)
York University Centre for Christianity and Culture
The Inge Report
Church of England Vision for the 2020s
To respond to the Mission in Revision consultation (GS2222)
1 September 2021