*** DEBUG END ***

Not so great an expectation

27 June 2014

Our trust is regularly asked, in relation to our grant-making, why we fund lavatories in church, when we have managed 1000 years and more without them.

LIFE moves on. You might just as well ask why we need flush lavatories in our homes, and don't any longer retire to a rough patch of ground at the end of the garden. We had no lavatories when I went to church as a child, and we nipped behind a convenient gravestone. Remember those buckets with a wooden seat that were at the end of the school playground? Much to be avoided, if at all possible.

Expectations have changed. Think of all those holiday destinations that have rapidly turned to Western-style flushable lavatories in order to improve the visitor experience. If we want visitors - some of whom, at least, may come again - we have to provide a suitable experience.

Because most large shops, town centres, stations, and public places have lavatories, people no longer insist on a last visit to the lavatory before leaving the house. There is no reason why churches should choose to step outside this cultural norm. We want to offer a welcome to all; and, in these days, when so many younger newcomers have never visited a church before, we are not in a position to question the expectation that facilities will be in place.

Saying that lavatories are not needed is like saying: "We don't need disabled facilities: we don't have any disabled people coming to church." Of course you don't: they check the available facilities, and stay away.

Many parents of young children will expect to find some facilities. Elderly people may require the facilities, or stay at home for fear of embarrassing themselves. With ageing populations and ageing congregations, we have to change.

So, even if the congregation can cope, consider the young, the elderly, the disabled, and all those people who might use the church for funerals and weddings - they all want to feel welcome. After all, church buildings have changed and developed throughout their history, by providing seating and lighting, for example; we can make it work for a new generation.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)