Over 100 people gathered on 6th December at the St Alban’s Conference Centre for HRBA’s Big Update. The day started with a much appreciated appearance from John Glen MP, Heritage Minister, who expressed his support for church buildings and confirmed that the LPWGS would continue to at least March 2020.
Becky Clark, Director Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, Church of England then gave a spirited talk entitled Austerity, Atheists and Angst: What Future for Church Buildings? advancing the idea that in these difficult and strange times, the role of churches has never been so relevant.
Presentations followed on the new edition of the Crossing the Threshold resource for places of worship who want to develop community projects, from Jonathan Gordon-Fairleigh, of Stir To Action, on how the social enterprise model can work for churches, and on how the Big Lottery grants can meet their funding needs. There were updates from the Church of Scotland who showcased their new series of 360º tours of Scottish churches and also from Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales on the Strategic Action Plan for Historic Places of Worship in Wales. Susan Rowe, a trustee from the now-ended Living Stones organisation, which for 40 years supported church community outreach, spoke about lessons learnt and provided insight into how congregations view their buildings. In ‘Controversy, Typhoid and the Motorway That Never Was’ Ian Simpson, Heritage Officer at the Diocese of Liverpool told fascinating stories about Toxteth churches reminding us that churches are very much about their context and throughout history are affected by and reflect what is happening in their local communities.