There has been considerable media coverage of a developing row over the policies of the Church of St Sepulchre Holborn,in London.
The story was first reported by Olivia Rudgard in the Telegraph Proms conductor in row with musicians’ church after it bans ‘non-religious’ concerts. She reported:
…a London church has become embroiled in a row with one of Britain’s best-known composers after it announced it would close its doors to choirs and orchestras because their music was not religious.
Now part of a network founded by evangelical church Holy Trinity Brompton, St. Sepulchre Without Newgate Church, in Holborn, central London, will stop taking bookings from the classical musicians which have relied on it as a rehearsal and concert venue for many years.
The church became part of the evangelical group, which is known for its youth-friendly rock-band style of worship, in 2013.
The Church Times picked up the story and initially reported this way: Musicians feel betrayed as St Sepulchre’s ceases as a concert venue and St Sepulchre’s plan to limit hire-space upsets musicians.
The following week there was: Music luminaries protest at St Sepulchre’s plans.
And the Church Times Press Column also covered it: Andrew Brown: City church-plant resists secular overtures. Do read the whole column, but he noted that:
…So far, St Sepulchre’s has not backed down, and even if it now does so, it will have done a lasting piece of disevangelism. What makes the whole thing so completely ridiculous is that it may well have happened by accident. Perhaps no one in the leadership team has ever listened to Classic FM, let alone Radio 3, and so they all vaguely suppose that classical music is part of the old, moth-eaten musical brocade that they are tearing down to reveal the clean, authentic Ikea Christianity that lies behind it.
The church itself has published this statement:
The Parochial Church Council of St. Sepulchre’s, the National Musicians’ Church, recently took the decision to close its hiring programme from 2018. Hiring will continue as previously planned for the rest of 2017, and all existing bookings for 2018 will be honoured.
An increasingly busy programme of worship and church activities has led to ever higher demands on the church space, and the hire space is also shared with the church administration office.
Over the weekend there has been a significant response online and via social media to this decision, and we have been greatly moved by the concern expressed for the musical life of the church. We do wish to re-iterate that we remain committed to our ministry as the National Musicians’ Church. In the coming weeks we will reflect and pray, and consult with members of the musicians’ community about how best to fulfil that ministry moving forward, including particularly Dr. Andrew Earis (Director of Music at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and former Director of Music here at St. Sepulchre’s).
Finally, we are committed to our on-going programme of weekly Choral Worship, and our on-going programme of choral and organ scholarships. We will maintain and develop our excellent professional choir, which recently recorded a new album to be launched in the Autumn.