Can’t the Government see that faith resides under our roofs?
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
From the Revd Glyn Evans
Sir, — I welcome the Church Heritage
Forum’s response to the recent parliamentary report on the role of historic
News, 6 August). Government and statutory agencies seem to have a blind
spot when it comes to recognising the contribution that Churches and faith
groups make to culture.
A working party in the diocese of Oxford recently produced Faith in Culture:
A faith contribution to cultural strategies (available on
www.oxford.anglican.org), when it was realised that regional documents
failed to take seriously the connection between faith and culture, missing the
numerous cultural activities that churches and faith communities are engaged in
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is currently consulting about
their recently published document Culture and Regeneration. Once again, it
shows a remarkable lack of awareness of faith issues and the way faith groups
use cultural activities and projects to build social and community cohesion
among young and old alike. It appears unaware of the built heritage of churches
and faith buildings, and, in a section on schools, fails to mention the part
played by faith-based schools.
In rural communities, church buildings are central to the heritage
landscape. The church can sometimes be the only "agency" providing support for
the socially excluded and marginalised, using cultural activities to build
community. This is not mentioned.
Needless to say, the diocese of Oxford will be putting together a response
to the consultation. Perhaps other dioceses would like to do the same.
It is important for the Church and other faith communities to keep alert for
the opportunity to proclaim the role and purpose of faith, and thereby
contribute to key policy- and decision-making processes. There is a plethora of
government consultations and initiatives that need to be kept an eye on. At a
time of scarce resources, it is easy to miss them.
Oxford Rural and Regional Officer
Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0SE
From the Revd Canon Arthur J. Dobb
Sir, — It is high time the cliché that "God is not interested in buildings"
was put to rest. He is! And the history of the human race has been interlinked
with sacred buildings since Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees.
People on earth need their material, sacred place. Both Peter and Paul, in
their letters, use "the temple" as a parable. Following the return of the Jews
after the Babylonian exile, synagogues were built in any town, city or village
where there were at least 12 men. These were the "preaching-prayer houses".
Jesus read the lesson and preached in the synagogue of Nazareth; St Paul used
buildings extensively. The Christians followed this ancient tradition and built
churches after c.334.
A church should stand in a parish as an ikon that God is here, and that the
gospel of Christ is proclaimed through word and sacrament when the people
Sadly, the modern cult to reorder has left some looking like a consecrated
coffee-bar, and others akin to a band-practice room. This is one reason why the
faculty system exists.
Sound-bites make ready reading but do not necessarily reflect the truth.
ARTHUR J. DOBB
97 Turton Heights
Bolton BL2 3DU