Huw Edwards – yes, the Huw Edwards – along with the Rev Roger Royle, other personalities, dignitaries and invited guests gathered in ‘the media’s church’, St Bride’s Church, in Fleet Street, London, on16th July to celebrate the UK’s favourite churches. These churches were chosen by 60 top people from the world of politics, entertainment, journalism and academia – including the Prime Minister, David Cameron; other party leaders; performers including Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Dennis, Michael Palin and Joanna Lumley, as well as the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
“If you don’t like the list, it doesn’t matter. You can make your own choices,” Huw Edwards commented. “The key purpose behind this list is to get people talking and thinking about their favourite churches.
“These days, we live in a secular society that questions the use of churches and chapels and this makes it harder for us to safeguard these buildings,” he said. “But these buildings are more than mere places of worship. They’re focal places in the local community. They act as village halls, sports halls, nursery schools, drugs clinics – and lots of other things.”
The event at St Bride’s was part of the National Churches Trust’s 60th anniversary celebrations. The initiative aims to promote awareness of churches as some of the UK’s most important and best loved buildings. It also seeks to raise awareness of the need for continuing funding to keep them in good repair for future generations.
Since 1953, the National Churches Trust has helped to keep churches of all Christian denominations open by funding over 12,000 grants and loans, worth over £85m at today’s prices, to pay for urgent repairs and the installation of modern facilities. An independent charity, the National Churches Trust is funded entirely by voluntary donations.
Anyone can nominate a favourite church via the website and social media. Anyone nominating a favourite church and members of a nominated church’s congregation will have a chance to attend a service celebrating the work of the National Churches Trust, to be held at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 28 November 2013.
Perhaps the last word should go to Private Eye editor, Ian Hislop, who nominated the Church of St. Ishow, at Partrishow, in The Vale of Grwyney, Powys, He said: “In the old days, the churches used to worry about saving us. Now we have to worry about saving them. I’m delighted that the National Churches Trust will be taking on the task for the future.”