Unlike Cuba, in England the Church is not persecuted, but its attendance is so low that many rural churches may have to close. Now Christians celebrate Easter, but some in England are not even sure whether their centuries-old temples are open in the following year. Some communities are experimenting in an attempt to leave open the doors of their historic Church buildings.
Among this magnificent English landscape is a small village Peterchurch. At the annual crafts fair of her Anglican Church, very active. But such a Church could be under threat of extinction — in part because of changes in demographics as people move to the cities. According to the report of the Church of England, more than half of its churches are in rural areas, although there is lives, only 17 percent of the population. This means: less traffic, fewer resources and a bleak future, given that the average age of parishioners 55 years.
“A lot of things due to the demographic situation. But you also need to be realistic and accept the secularization among the indigenous population. It is doubtless,” says Annie Holden, diocese of Hereford.
In the diocese, serving Herefordshire, the most sparsely populated County in England, there are over four hundred Anglican churches. Most of them hundreds of years — they are historical monuments that should be preserved. The report has a number of proposals, for example, highlight the “holiday Church” to be opened only on special days such as Christmas and Easter.
“It will be sad if I have to close the door and keep it locked most of the year. However, we must be realistic and admit that is very expensive to maintain such an historic building, maintain it in good condition, pay the bills,” continues Annie Holden.
This three thousand years tis, of course, seen many changes over many years in this English village. And her Church standing here since the eighth century, has found a way to keep up with the times.
“When the Church was first built, its territory belonged to the villagers. So she was the center of the community. With the years this principle has been lost, the Church gradually turned into a sacred place, access to which is allowed only to a select few. We’re trying to get back what you had,” continues Annie Holden.
The answer came from local authorities, who proposed to use the Church in the framework of the programme “Every child matters”. But the building needed major repairs.
“Inside the Church was quite cold, damp and dark. And not very comfortable,” says project Manager Enid Tarbox.
The task was to update the Church and retain its historical appearance. After four years, the project has implemented, and now the villagers here spend not only the Church service.
“Our architect said, “Stand in the middle of the nave, turn around and take a look at the new partition. This vision of the future. But it is also very important to look at the traditional part of the Church, and somehow to combine the old and the new,” continued Enid Tarbox.
“Saved the beauty of the Church is its ancient beauty. But there was also the beauty of the modern. One or two people still wanted us to leave the bench, but most people agreed with us when he saw that instead of the Church, used for an hour on Sunday morning, it is now used almost every day,” says Simon Lockett, vicar of St Peter’s Church.
In the Center of St. Peter offers everything from activities for the elderly to yoga. And the bell tower of the Church now serves as a branch of the local library.
“This is great. Currently, the main library of the County in the city closed for repairs. And we have a branch library of the County in the village, even when it is not. It’s amazing!” says Caroline Gilbert, a resident of the community Peterchurch.
When the clerk of Souvenirs Caroline Gilbert moved here with his young family, St. Peter drew her attention to a group for parents with children.
“This beautiful building is in such a small village, but the city is to go only half an hour. We love it here,” says the woman.
“When we first opened, I heard a boy playing on the Playground and told the other children: “Come to our Church. It’s so fun!” I think now people are more willing to come to us,” says Simon Lockett.
The Church of England acknowledges that there is no single answer, but the Centre of St. Peter she finds a good sample with which the future seems to be brighter than in the past.