Cathedrals respond to 'critical' threat level 

26 May 2017


Remembered: a vigil outside Birmingham Cathedral on Thursday to remember the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing

Remembered: a vigil outside Birmingham Cathedral on Thursday to remember the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing

THE raising of the national terror threat to its highest level has had implications for many churches. On Wednesday, it was announced that Birmingham Cathedral would be closed for 24 hours, “subject to re­­view”.

The Acting Dean, Canon Nigel Hand, said that Cathedral Square would be “a place of prayer, reflec­tion and hope in the coming days”.

Unlike other cathedrals, Birming­ham did not have its own cathedral police, and was “under-resourced in terms of security”, with no “front­line staff” dedicated to it, the direc­tor of resources, Anna Pitt, ex­­plained.

In the heart of a busy city centre, in an area where there had been “significant numbers of terrorism-related arrests”, and with no means to stop visitors and search bags, the decision had been taken to close while additional security was put in place.

Holding services outside, under the observation of police, was “a visible sign that our faith is strong and endures. The church is not just a building but the people, and that endures for us. . . We are doing everything we can for business as usual, as far as our worship and wit­­ness is concerned.”

It was later confirmed that Bir­ming­ham Cathedral would reopen on Thursday.

Increased security measures were announced by York Minster on Wednesday, including “high visibil­ity patrols” by its cathedral con­stables, and the immediate intro­duction of random bag searches. Large bags and suitcases will no longer be allowed inside.

In Manchester, Dean Govender confirmed that, before Monday’s at­­tack, in response to “recent threats”, he had decided to employ two se­­cur­­ity officers and put bag searches in place.


Christ is with the Manchester victims - Leader comment

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