Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne, visited Ripon on Friday, 15 September 2017, part of a country-wide tour of all 42 cathedrals in England.
In October last year Lord Bourne began his tour of all 42 of England’s Anglican cathedrals to highlight their important role at the heart of communities and their efforts to strengthen relationships between people of different backgrounds and beliefs.
Friday’s visits brought the grand total of cathedrals visited to 40. The tour will officially end in a week’s time in Canterbury where the Minister will meet Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Recent statistics released from the Church of England show:
- The 42 Anglican cathedrals are attracting more worshippers (an increase of 18 per cent since 2005), as well as diversifying towards new activities and programmes such as adult education classes and art installations.
- Between 2014 and 2015 alone there was a huge jump in the number of ecumenical and interfaith events, with the number of people volunteering in cathedrals rising by 13 per cent since 2005.
Lord Bourne was accompanied by Lord Bird, the founder of the Big Issue magazine.
Following his visits, Minister for Faith Lord Bourne said:
Over the last year, I have been championing the tremendous efforts of cathedrals across the country to remain firmly at the heart of local life.
My visits to Yorkshire demonstrated the important role these cathedrals are playing, from bringing people together of different faiths to supporting the disadvantaged.“I have come away certain that Ripon, York, Wakefield and Sheffield cathedrals will continue to strengthen their roles at the heart of their respective communities long into the future.
Lord Bird said:
It’s been great to join Lord Bourne on the final leg of his cathedral tour of England. I champion anything that brings our local communities together and cathedrals certainly do that.
It is when people come together in places such as these that we witness support of the most vulnerable in society, so it’s fantastic that Lord Bourne has shone a light upon their importance.
At Ripon the Minister heard from Reverend Canon Ailsa Newby and the director of Operations for then cathedral, Julia Barker, about the cathedral’s long history of involvement in interfaith events. These include joint Muslim – Christian worship and a ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust. He also learned about the work of the chapter in encouraging tourism and religious pilgrimage in the area.
Reverend Canon Ailsa Newby said:
It’s good to see the Government acknowledging the importance of cathedrals in the community and to see Lord Bourne with us today.
As a cathedral, we are keen to be at the centre of the community and concerns.
It’s about a ministry of welcome and hospitality of community.
- There were 9.4 million visitors to cathedrals in 2015; a further 1 million people visited Westminster Abbey.
- 75 per cent of the UK’s churches and cathedrals are listed buildings. Two thirds of church buildings and 75 per cent of Grade I listed churches are in rural areas where only 20 per cent of the population lives.
- The Government set up the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund 2016-2018 to provide cathedrals across England with funds for essential repairs, from heating systems to stained glass windows.
- The English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review was set up in 2016 in collaboration with the Church of England. It will consider how best to ensure that England’s 16,000 cathedrals and churches remain at the centre of civic life. The review will also help make sure that these unique and historical buildings are sustainably maintained and funded.