The Association of Festival Churches (AFC) held its second annual gathering at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Woodstock.
Presentations included an update on the state of play from Joseph Elders, Major Projects Officer at the Church Buildings Council and secretary of the AFC.
Setting the idea of festival churches in the wider context of church buildings strategy, Dr Elders gave an overview of new models for festival churches, including that used by the Diocese of Norwich.
Here, a Diocesan Churches Trust has been set up in the past year, whereby churches are leased to the Trust, which takes care of the buildings, freeing up church communities to focus on mission.
Church buildings thus designated are available for occasional services but also importantly still able to come back into regular use should the local situation change. This page on the Diocese of Norwich website provides further details on how the scheme works.
Festival churches, it was argued, sit alongside CofE approaches to resource churches and major churches. Revisions to Canons B11 and B14 allowing reduced frequency of services come into effect 2019, offering a more secure legal basis for developing this approach.
The gathering also heard from Charles Chadwick, parish development advisor for the Diocese of Oxford, on how festival churches are located within this Diocese’s new rural strategy. David Meakin, also of the Diocese of Oxford, shared some practical ideas for rural festivals, including Hymns and Pimms and a lively Martinmas involving a parade of lit torches from the village green to the church.
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