FIND the church cat, scale the steeple, enjoy a beer festival, give blood, and go skateboarding — just a few of the more surprising suggestions included in “50 Things to do in a Church”, the latest campaign from the charity the National Churches Trust.
Also in the list is learning English, attending yoga classes, and taking part in a historical re-enactment, as well as the more usual church activities of meeting the vicar, bell-ringing, lighting a candle, admiring stained glass, drinking tea, and singing hymns.
The campaign was launched last week in a bid to draw people back to their parish churches, or experience the building in a different light, and share it with others.
The Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, the actor Michael Palin, listed “peace and quiet” in his top reasons for churchgoing. “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,” he said.
“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 . . . to make them part of our lives as well.”
The National Churches Trust campaign points to its survey on the part played by churches in the community, which suggests that 90 per cent of churches are used for community purposes other than regular worship.
The chief executive, Claire Walker, said that both the survey and latest campaign “makes it clear that churches, chapels, and meeting houses are a tremendous asset to people and communities throughout the UK”.
In the charity’s 2016 poll, 57 per cent of the 2038 UK adults questioned visited a church building in the past year, including as a tourist, and for religious services.
To share your experiences of churchgoing, or to add to the list, visit www.nationalchurchestrust.org/50things