The Church of England and “Festival Churches”

 In an attempt to keep open those churches threatened with closure, the Church of England has recently endorsed the concept of designating some as “Festival Churches”. In this guest post, Trevor Cooper, Chairman of the Council of The Ecclesiological Society, explores the matter further…



The Church of England has recently endorsed the concept of designating some of its church buildings as “Festival Churches”. It says that such buildings have “some potential to help avert a sharp upturn” in the number of churches closing every year, explaining that “Festival Churches are about trying to ensure that churches remain open”.[1] An Association of Festival Churches has been set up and is to be launched at a fringe meeting of General Synod on 16 February 2016.

The core idea of a Festival Church (FC) is to remove the requirement for regular services and to use the building in a way which allows “much of the whole community to come together to celebrate church festivals” and “to ensure that there is an open church for people in the local community to celebrate rites of passage, such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals”. But there is no single definition: it is “a broad term for a range of models for doing rural ministry differently”.

This post is a first attempt to describe various forms of Festival Church, focusing on their legal status and source of funding. Continue reading