The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Norfolk's churches could open up for public use

YelvertonChurchDaffsCrop2009: Norfolk's vast network of ancient churches could be opened up and used for services from health surgeries to elderly day care centres to post offices under new government plans.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, who gave advice to authors of the report proposing the initiative, said it would help the church play a much greater role in serving the wider community.

“We have these wonderful historic buildings but we need to put them to use to the benefit the wider community and it is good that the government are recognising this,” said Bishop Graham.

Financial secretary to the Treasury Stephen Timms has been joined by other leading ministers in recognising the “valuable” but often unrecognised role faith communities play in local areas.

Although no new government money is on offer for building adaptations, Faith Buildings: Realising the Potential outlines how faith groups can better tap into existing sources of funding from government programmes.

Bishop Graham agreed with the report's view that if a faith-based organisation accepted funding for public services those services should be open to everyone in that community, whatever their beliefs.

The Bishop pointed out many churches in Norfolk have been adapted and re-ordered for wider community use and examples included St Michael's at Aylsham and Fakenham parish church.

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., 25/03/2009

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