“What we are as a nation, and what we stand for, is a legitimate issue for the voice of the church to be heard. And that voice must carry to the faithless as well as to the faithful. But if it’s to deliver its message, the church can’t ignore its own problems. I won’t trespass on this occasion upon matters of conscience, but only on practical issues. Many parishes face financial challenges. And there’s a doubt about whether a nationwide parochial system can be sustained. It is, of course a Herculean task.
The Church of England with its cathedrals and its parish churches, is responsible for a very large part of our architectural and cultural heritage, including no less than 45% of all grade one listed buildings. The lion’s share of that cost, the cost of maintaining this huge community asset, falls on a diminishing number of regular worshippers. This is both unjust and in the longer term unsustainable. Some argue that it may be necessary to close churches, reduce the number of stipendiary clergy and sell assets. I do hope not. It would be a grim outlook, and I hope Christians will rally to prevent it.
Churches are not only part of our lives, they’re also a very important part of our landscape. If lost, we would all be the poorer. And by we, I don’t only mean churchgoers. I mean, everyone. I live in eastern England. John Betjeman’s famous lines come to mind. “What would you be wide East Anglian sky without church towers to recognise you by?” Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, the church is always there when needed.
And it is, it seems to me, more than simply a place of worship. It is where we may seek the comfort of community and companionship, of solace and of sanctuary. Often silently, perhaps even subliminally, the church is a guide to our lives and our conscience. We should be grateful for that and do everything we can to protect its place in our society.” -Sir John Major
“As chairman of the Rectory Society – an appreciation society for all who love former and existing clergy houses of all kinds – I admire Save our Parish for its urgent commitment to its cause. Parish life is central to our heritage and is the essence of practical, pastoral Christianity. It must be saved.” – Charles Moore, journalist, former editor of the Daily Telegraph (among others)
“As for the bishops, in my experience they have found the solitary corner of this country where they will be listened to. They have delighted us long enough and should quit en masse.” – Jeremy Paxman, Broadcaster
I was brought up with the ancient liturgy of the Church of England. The rhythms of its language are part of the DNA of the English speaking peoples. In my Dorset childhood the speech of my neighbours, however humble, echoed Cranmer’s and Tyndale’s cadences.“Today, the Church of England is in decline. It can no longer influence its parishioners as it once did. Like almost all institutions in similar straits, it is accelerating its own demise by strangling its greatest asset, the parish network. Instead of supporting the parishes, the Church spends its money, much of it extracted from the parishes themselves, on its burgeoning bureaucracy.“Significantly, this is now the only real path to advancement for ambitious clergy, starving the parishes of some of the church’s ablest. Magnificently, however, there are still parishes that thrive despite the best efforts of the church hierarchy. They at least demonstrate that there is an alternative.” – Lord Salisbury
“We are in danger of letting excessive managerialism strangle the life out of our Church. Our Parishes are its heart and soul, not top-heavy bureaucracies and virtue-signalling talking shops.” – Sir Robert Buckland MP
“Our task is to liberate the Parish clergy from the shackles of bureaucracy and bad governance to enable them carry out their pastoral work and missional work- not to give them advice on how to do that.
The immediate and most urgent task is to try and slow down the currently accelerating process of church closures, amalgamations, clergy reductions, Parish share increases and mindless central initiatives that strangle mission at the grassroots level so parishes can be left to get on with the job.” – Prudence Dailey, Synod Member
“The Save The Parish people who have come on board Synod….This has changed the mix, and upset the apple cart. They have come like the sons of thunder with a certain enthusiasm and a sense of urgency. And some of the frustrations with message management, and being told ‘well that’s not the way things have been done in the past’, when really the Synod needs to wake up that actually there is very much a new constituency here, who represent much more ordinary people in the pews.” – Rev’d Daniel French
“I support those StP people. I think we need to be careful not to make an idol out of the parish system but to see it as a useful way of ministry to the culture and reaching the culture, but absolutely supportive. In the Church of England, we need to keep the parish, to major on the parish because the parish is ultimately about being with the people and about actually reaching communities, being incarnational.’” – Rev’d Jamie Franklin
“How the Bishops expect their clergy and laity to have confidence in an even greater degree of diocesan authority when so many are failing beggars belief.” -Rev’d Campbell Paget and others, (Letter to the Church Times, 11 Mar 2022)
“I strongly support the saving of our parishes – the basic unit of local communities for many centuries, with a sacred place, the church, at their heart, and a priest who can respond to local needs, conduct rites of passage, like christenings, marriages and funerals, and lead in the collective celebration of festivals, like Christmas, as well as regular service, open to everyone and free of charge.
Almost all other anchors of local community have been swept away in many villages, and the church alone remains as a focus and symbol of continuity. Running parishes from remote central hubs and closing churches might make sense if the Church of England were a business, but it is doing something very different, helping parish communities to retain their identity, their connection with the past – and their connection with generations as yet unborn. – Dr Rupert Sheldrake, Author, Hampstead Parish Church
“The hastening death of the parish will tear the beating heart from many a small place that is reliant upon church to help organise its common life. Yet the response of the centre to the cry of the periphery always tends to be – and here I inwardly groan – the announcement of yet another fancy-sounding yet ultimately vacuous missionary initiative.” – Fr Giles Fraser
“Parish priests such as myself operate at the coal face, we baptise, we marry, we bury we console were we can. This is the work at the micro level. Where the church does not have a presence is at the national level, the macro level.
“It is here that there has been a complete lack of engagement, of witness, of imagination. As entities ‘ dioceses’ have no practical or spiritual traction or presence. They are failing institutions and failing at great cost to the parishes. Without effective national witness work at the parish level has been made far harder.” – Revd Peter Owen-Jones, Parish Priest, Author and Broadcaster
“My local parish church is a thousand years old, but it’s as relevant and important today as it’s ever been.
“Let’s celebrate our parish churches. They are not only our heritage – but they are also at the heart of our communities.” – Gyles Brandreth, Broadcaster & Writer
Save The Parish is a fantastic campaign that I wholeheartedly support.’ – Chris Loder MP
“In rural areas, the parish church is often the only building which can be used for gathering the community at times of celebration and crisis. Its local rector or vicar is usually ‘the face of the place’ and an important person in the community, whose absence would further impoverish the community.“Saving the parish should be about the possibility of all Christians being able to use it and for the community, as a whole, to be able to gather whenever the need arises. It should remain open for reflection, meditation and prayer, as also for appropriate exhibitions, concerts and lectures.” – Former Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
“Whether you are a person of faith or not, the parish church is something that everyone can believe in. It is that rare place where beauty, peace and kindness come together, a handrail to hold onto when life gets too hard to manage alone.“A community without a church has had its soul removed. I was shocked to learn that the dioceses and even some bishops are conspiring to cut out that precious part of our national life, arrogantly ignoring the pleas of those who pay for it.“At a time when the hunger for community is greater than ever, this is an act of wanton vandalism. But how very obliging of CofE bureaucrats to do the Devil’s work for him.” – Allison Pearson, Columnist
“Hearing about how the Church of England works, I’ve come to associate the word ‘diocese’ with rapaciousness, bureaucracy and centralisation. The parish is the antidote to all that. It’s actual human beings doing incredible good in their locality and keeping their churches going; it’s unflagging priests, generous helpers, and the sublime smell of hymn books and candlewax in a living, breathing church.
“The idea that the managers in grey suits (and sometimes in mitres) are squeezing the parishes to death, thereby undermining this essence of England’s social fabric, is abhorrent.” – Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Writer
“Bishops and their bureaucrats mean nothing to me. What draws me to church is the Prayer Book, the English hymns, the smell of permanence amid transience, and the stalwart sentry duty of the parish priest.” – Quentin Letts, Journalist
“The parish gives character to its surroundings. It curates art and beauty. It is a temple for a community. And, some believe, is a place where Christ’s presence is felt. In short, the parish church is a lifeboat in a sea of madness: remove it and we might very well drown.” – Tim Stanley, Journalist
“Every community’s parish church is unique to it. The church is its visible legacy, its history, heart and soul and by definition, it cannot be ‘shared’.” – Sir Simon Jenkins, Author & Columnist
“We have had an appalling time with our diocese and it is easy to just behave as badly as “they” do but we are better than that because we are truly trying to serve our Saviour who suffered insult and assault but said not a word. In haste duty calls. God bless you in the task you have set.” – A Parishioner, Anonymous