The first ever Festival of Churches launches this week. The Festival will cross the three Counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcester and will include activities at more than 200 historic churches over the weekend of the 14th and 15th September."Buildings are not quiet. They speak volumes. The church buildings of Shropshire tell of faith in Jesus Christ that has shaped lives and communities across this county" says the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Rt Revd Mark Rylands.
"Offering a wonderful opportunity for you to discover these stories, The Festival of Churches will open up many historical and spiritual treasures. I hope you have an enjoyable time exploring these sacred spaces and listening to the different voices, both past and present, on the way. As you visit these holy sites, lovingly cared for by present Salopians, I pray that you will find Gods divine welcome and hear his still small voice for you today."Its been several months of hard work but we think its going to pay off, said Jenny Beard, spokesperson for Herefordshire Churches Tourism Group, one of organisations involved. The amazing thing is how imaginative and creative parishes are being. Jenny Beard has been involved in the development of the Festival website.This week sees the launch of the Festival of Churches website and the comprehensive brochure. This not only lists all the churches taking part and it is still growing but picks out some of the events going on, has details of the bus tours available and lots more information besides.Kristina Williamson, Church Buildings Support Officer for the Diocese of Lichfield says:
The Festival will highlight the many joys and treasures of our beautiful church buildings introducing them to new audiences and offering wonderful opportunities for local people and visitors from further away to learn about their heritage. It is also a chance for the churches to make new friends and raise awareness of the contribution that they can and do make to the local community.People interested in Local History for example should be able to plan a really great and entertaining weekend, said Jenny. Many churches will have registers available or be featuring staffed exhibitions with knowledgeable people able to tell the story of their building.Other activities include chances to try bell ringing, churchyard fun, church trails that visitors can follow, wedding celebrations and flower festivals. There will be food available everywhere over the weekend from the coffee morning to a curry lunch, and strawberry teas to barbeques so no-one should go hungry either, added Jenny.The Festival of Churches is being organised and promoted by several local groups. As well as Herefordshire, The Shropshire Churches Tourism Group and the county Historic Churches Trusts have been working with the three Dioceses of Hereford, Lichfield and Worcester, to bring about the event. Part of its purpose is to raise funds for the Historic Churches Trusts which help fund repairs when churches need money for their historic and sometimes costly buildings.Contact for Shropshire Christine Tinker 01588 660 480 mob: 07970 577614