Reimagining our Churches: Conservation to Co-operation

  • Start: 9th October, 2018 at 9:00am

  • End: 9th October, 2018 at 3:30pm

St Ethelburga’s, 78 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AG

On Tuesday 9 October, Stir to Action are hosting a one-day conference to bring together key people in the church, heritage sector, and those working in community economic development.

What will happen on the day?

We will collectively ask:

  • What is the role of co-operative and community businesses in this sector and can this facilitate more conservation and care for church buildings?
  • Beyond Charity: Can churches become enablers? What are the cultural challenges and opportunities?

Where is it?

St Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is a maker of peace-makers, inspiring and equipping people from all backgrounds to become peace-builders in their own communities and lives. This unique venue is accessible with bus stops and is a short walk from Liverpool Street train station. Find out more about the centre here.

Why now?

Over the last ten years, communities have lost many local assets, such as pubs, banks, shops, and social spaces, with local authority cuts ensuring the loss of even more public buildings and services.

Alongside this situation, churches in the UK are experiencing a continuing institutional decline, with recent reports indicating that over 25% of churches have as little as 20 parishioners, some rural churches having ten or fewer. This combination of under-use, high maintenance costs, and lack of income generation, has led many church buildings to become burdens instead of assets.

We believe there is a historic opportunity to bring together the economic needs of our communities and the nation’s churches.

While there is a burgeoning movement to take community ownership of libraries, public civic halls, and even retail spaces, there is a very evident gap in this sector as regards the vast swathes of church properties which could make a massive positive difference in the community-led economic development process.

Rachel Laurence, New Economics Foundation

Join the conference

Who should apply to attend?

1. Community Practitioners. At this stage we are particularly interested in applications from practitioners who represent an established community group which either:‍
  • has experience of using church space(s) for community economic development, or
  • have the ambition, resources and relationships in place to develop a project in this area soon.
This event will be focusing on how organisations can work together to create a national framework/alliance to refocus collective effort on churches as enablers of community enterprise and local economic development.  Therefore, if you are not a member of a community group or are in the early stages of development of your project this is probably not the conference for you. We would however encourage you to get in touch with us on 01993 810730 as will be more than happy to talk through your ideas and offer advice.
2. Representatives of national or regional bodies concerned with the use of church buildings for community economic development (churches, heritage groups, funders, etc). We already have a diverse coverage of national bodies attending. If you feel your organisation should be part of this event, please apply.
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