Opening your church to the public gives people the opportunity to appreciate a wonderful building that has, in many cases, been part of the community for many centuries. People visit churches for different reasons. Some will have an interest in history and architecture, others may be seeking a quiet place to feel closer to God or explore their own spirituality. Whatever their reasons for visiting, it is important that they find an open and welcoming place.
Parishes can do a range of simple easy things to make visitors enjoy their experience (and want to come back again) such as providing information about their church, displaying opening and worship times and advertising forthcoming events or community activities. Providing coffee & tea, even if visitors have to make it themselves, is always a good idea! Access to toilet facilities is also appreciated, as is a friendly face for those who have questions about your building.
The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG) positively encourage parishes to keep their churches open and welcoming. More details can be found on their website at: EIG Open Churches
Churches Tourism Network Wales (CTNW) have produced a range of resources to help parishes open their churches to the public, including the Open Churches Toolkit which was created in partnership with the Church in Wales. Click on the following link to go to the toolkit: CTNW Resources
Creating a Friends Group is another way for parishes to encourage people to gain a wider understanding of their church and even to participate in its day to day running. Often the wider community have great sympathy for a church building, but may not wish to worship there or be directly involved in church life. A Friends Group can act as a link between the secular and ecclesiastical communities and unite a common interest in retaining a special and sacred building. The following guidance note explains more: Friends Groups