Could festival bring boost to our churches?

St Botolph's CHurch ENGEMN00120130416123205
St Botolph's CHurch ENGEMN00120130416123205

Volunteers are looking into organising a festival to celebrate and promote the borough’s churches.

Representatives from churches in the area met at St Botolph’s Church on Wednesday to talk about a potential Boston Churches Festival and hear from the organisers of a similar event which is held in West Lindsey.

If volunteers go ahead with the plans, the event could see all the churches in the borough invited to open over one or two weekends in September 2017.

Those attending all expressed an interest in holding the event, which it was thought could initially be held in the form of a ‘trail’.

David Mossman, church warden in Sutterton, said: “We have a wonderful medievil church in Sutterton and we’d like to share it with everybody.”

West Lindsey Churches Festival chairman Paul Howitt-Cowan and Linda Patrick, explained to the committee how they organised the event, which had been running for 20 years.

Churches which take part pay £25 and feature in a brochure about the festival which takes place over two weekends.

There are only a few requirements to take part and that includes the church must be open and entry must be free - however, the churches may organise whatever they like during the opening times.

Linda said Lincolnshire has the greatest number of churches in the country.

Paul said: “I think it’s marvellous that you want to progress this. “

He said the projects helped ‘demystify’ churches and promoted a ‘ministry of welcome’.

A meeting will now be set to plan the event in more detail - with the date to be confirmed.

As part of their talk to those attending the meeting on Wednesday, the West Lindsey Churches Festival chairman Paul Howitt-Cowan and vice-chairman Linda Patrick gave some tips and facts about their own festival.

l More than 90 churches are taking part in this year’s festival, and since Linda started there has not been fewer than 70 churches take part.

l Last year’s event saw 7,349 registered visitors through the doors of those churches taking part.

l It was calculated that the event brought in £20,622 income to local areas.

l A total of 644 volunteers helped out across the two weekends.

l The organisers begin putting the brochure together in October sending out letters to all the churches in their area. They finish the brochure in March time.

l Although churches aren’t allowed to charge for entry, they can organise events and stalls inside the church such as coffee mornings, breakfasts etc. Some have made up to £1,000 for their own coffers as a

result of this.

l The event has for the past few years recieved £7,000 towards the event from West Lindsey District Council, while other aspects such as the brochure are sponsored by local companies.

l The event’s advertising comes from local media and specialist magazines, radio, banners and posters.

Anyone interested in taking part or helping out with volunteering can get in touch with Stella Jackson, the regional project officer in Lincolnshire for the Maintenance Co-operatives Project run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Email stella.jackson@spab.org.uk

For more information visit www.churchesfestival.info