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New Commission to look at Norfolk churches' use

A new Church Buildings Commission has been launched with the purpose of looking at the church buildings across Norfolk and Waveney in terms of their use and sustainability.

The Diocese of Norwich has more medieval churches than almost any other Diocese. There are a total of 658 church buildings in the Diocese of Norwich covering Norfolk and Waveney.

Every church building has a story to tell and provides space for mission, worship and service to their local communities.

However, almost all of the buildings are either Grade 1 or 2 star listed and nearly a quarter of the church buildings in the Diocese of Norwich are in areas with less than 150 people. The work and responsibility of maintaining these national heritage assets often falls to just a few people.

The Commission will consult widely and make recommendations on its findings, in the first instance, in a report to the Bishop of Norwich and the Bishop’s Council of Trustees.

The Right Rev Bishop Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich said: “The Diocese of Norwich has an amazing selection of parish churches, each a treasure trove of memories for their local community, often architectural and aesthetic gems, as well as places of prayerful experience.

“Whilst many churches are thriving, some don’t have the people or the financial resources to help maintain them. This means that there may be some tough decisions for this and future generations to make, as well as creative possibilities that we need to trial. I hope that the Commission will seek innovative solutions and build a consensus about the future.

“I am enormously grateful to Laura McGillivray for agreeing to give of her time to chair a Church Buildings Commission for the Diocese of Norwich. This time-limited piece of work, which brings together a team of people with wide experience, aims to look at sustainable options for the future of church buildings in Norfolk and Waveney, asking some challenging questions to help shape that future. Please do contribute your thoughts and ideas, thank you.”

The Commission has a remit to look at all options for the future of these historic church buildings. However, they cannot make final decisions, only recommendations. The Ven Steven Betts, Archdeacon of Norfolk, said: “The Church of England’s core purpose is mission, worship and service, yet local people care for a great many ancient buildings on behalf of their communities and our nation. Therefore, the aim of the Commission is to consult with people who have an interest in these historical buildings to find positive sustainable solutions where possible.”  

Former Chief Executive of Norwich City Council, Laura McGillivray MBE, Chair of the Commission said: “I am delighted to be chairing this Commission which will be dedicated to looking for sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by maintaining these wonderful buildings so that all the people of Norfolk and our visitors have the opportunity to enjoy them into the future.”

The Anglican Cathedral in Norwich is not included in the Commission's work.

The Commission would like to hear from anyone in the community who has an interest in the church buildings across Norfolk and Waveney.

You can contribute your comments by email at: churchbuildingscommission@dioceseofnorwich.org

Or in writing to: The Church Buildings Commission, Diocesan House, 109 Dereham Road, Easton, Norwich, NR9 5ES

Pictured above is St Mary's, Attleborough.
 

Keith Morris, 17/01/2022

Keith Morris
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