Comments: Opinion - 5 April 2017

I had seen that Guardian article. It's something I feel strongly about. The amazing network of ancient parish churches we have in this land, strung out in village after village, town after town, is a priceless national heritage.

I have long felt that the nation should support this heritage far more, not because of their religious content, but because they form such a part of our national way of life and history. In addition, through the generations, they have been valued parts of community, and hopefully will be again in future generations.

The worst case scenario would be the selling off of these historic buildings to the wealthy, for adaptation into dwellings etc. Where congregations dwindle, perhaps the Church should lease buildings out for sensitive community use, and even local enterprise, on, say 50 year leases. And upkeep should be maintained in such cases with state support.

I think this needs a national conversation, because this is not only about religion, but about way of life and heritage.

The thousands of churches, dating back in some cases over 1000 years, are a historical treasure. They also remain a witness and a testimony to faith. They are part of who we are as a nation, whatever our faith or belief.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 12:21pm BST

Should the State pay for the upkeep of ancient churches? Probably, but it is a difficult sell when the Church of England goes out of its way to seek exemptions from national law - hardly the behaviour of a great partnership.

But in the second half of the Twentieth Century, we lost so many stately homes and our built heritage is much the poorer for it. Supporting private owners of large houses was difficult too. But it is now widely recognised how much we lost. Is that to happen to churches next? The next generation would feel the loss were that so.

Posted by Kate at Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 8:46pm BST

Indeed, Susannah.

One of the biggest obstacles to safeguarding the church's heritage may be the puritanism of those who enjoy making the point that "church" is the people, not the building. Well fine, play that semantic game, but the people are shaped by the buildings, and I for one believe that our past is worth saving.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 6 April 2017 at 10:56pm BST

Once a church building is sold as a piece of real estate it becomes just another building. And yet it can never be just another building. The people who form a congregation are the body of Christ and the building is part of that dynamic. It's a very real relationship.

Posted by Pam at Friday, 7 April 2017 at 8:07am BST

Why has Liz Gravelling been put in the cupboard till after Easter? Too many home truths or must we just focus on chocolate related controversy till then?

Posted by Charles Read at Friday, 7 April 2017 at 12:23pm BST
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