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Launched by the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church repair and support charity, ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ highlights some of the activities and events that take place in and around church buildings and the many different ways that people use and experience churches and chapels.
Finding peace and quiet is one of the ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ that is a particular attraction for Michael Palin, writer and performer and Vice-President of the National Churches Trust.
Michael Palin said: “Once asked to declare my religious beliefs I described myself as ‘an agnostic with doubts’. However my interest in and fondness for churches is undiminished. Churches and chapels are important for all sorts of reasons. Where some are notable for inspirational architecture, others are commended for their community role and the work they do in bringing local people together.
“Two years ago I was being cross-questioned in a court case in London and during a lunch break in which I was not permitted to talk to anyone, I desperately wanted somewhere to sit quietly and get myself together. And yet there was nowhere where the price of a seat didn’t involve eating, drinking or some commercial transaction. Then, out of the blue, at the very heart of Fleet Street, I discovered the church of St Dunstan-in-the West. I was never so grateful for a place of repose, an oasis of peace and quiet in the midst of the mayhem.
“There are, of course, many other uses for churches and chapels and the National Churches Trust’s ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ – which includes everything from finding the Green Man to helping out at a night shelter - shows clearly why churches are such important local buildings. Our churches speak to all of us, even just as a tower on the horizon, a spire amongst the trees. We must do all we can to pass them on to future generations. They are part of our landscape and part of our national heritage. We have to do all we can to make them part of our lives as well.”
As well as being places of worship, church buildings play a vital role in activities for the benefit of the wider community. It is estimated that nearly 90% of churches are used for community purposes as well as for regular worship.
Included in ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ are activities and things to see and do linked to music and the arts, the spiritual, helping the community, art and architecture, food and drink, history, nature and wildlife, and sport and leisure.
The National Churches Trust is asking anyone with their own favourite ‘Things to do in a Church’ to share them online on the National Churches Trust website, on the National Churches Trust Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #50thingsinachurch.
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:"83% of British adults think that churches, chapels and meeting houses play an important role for society as they provide a space in which community activities can take place, as well as worship, according to the findings of a 2016 ComRes opinion poll on attitudes to church heritage. I hope ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ will encourage more people to discover some of the great things that it is possible to do in a church or chapel and explore some of their amazing history and architecture. There is no better place to find a Green Man, light a candle, find the tomb of someone famous or get involved in helping the community.”