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Churches’ artefacts that ought to be on display

by
18 October 2013

iStock

From the Revd Christopher Jervis

Sir, - Do churches wish to increase their revenues, reduce their costs, and promote mission? Now I've gained your attention, read on.

I recently visited a church that had a wooden chest dating back to Roman times locked in its tower. The same church owned some 17th-century silver that is stored in a bank vault. Security and insurance costs are an unnecessary expense to house treasures that will never be beneficially displayed by the church; so why keep them?

One might reply that we have a duty topreserve the archives in our care. I do not disagree with that sentiment, but is there a better way?

It is likely that many churches house similar artefacts at great cost butwith little benefit to the wider community. Undoubtedly, some churches will be able to display such articles safely, to the delight of visitors; but many will not.

I recommend that each diocese establish a "museum" to display smartly all such artefacts from its churches, making it clear that these objects link us to many Christians throughout the centuries, right up to the present day, when the churches from which these artefacts are "borrowed" are living, worshipping communities of faith.

Displays would also make it clear that the greatest treasure we have is the great news of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. The display, accompanied by a clear map of the diocese, might encourage museum visitors to visit the churches, too.

If the museums charged a reasonable tariff, then, once overheads had been met, profits could be disbursed to the contributing churches.

I commend this idea to diocesan archivists.

CHRISTOPHER JERVIS
8 Fairways, Plat Douet Road
St Clements, Jersey JE2 6 PN

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