Use of church buildings: update of “toolkit”

A date for the diary and a web page to watch

The Communications Director of the Hereford Diocese, Catherine Cashmore, has issued the Press Release New guide to developing a place of worship for community use on an updated version of the snappily titled ‘Crossing the Threshold: a step by step guide to developing your place of worship for wider community use and managing successful building projects’, which is being undertaken in partnership with the Diocese of Hereford. 


The Press Release states:

“The 2005 edition of the Crossing the Threshold Toolkit was produced in response to demand from parishes who wanted to open up their buildings for use by their local community. It offers an easy to follow step-by-step resource containing exactly the sort of information any parish would need to know. By providing support and practical guidance, the intention is for more churches to remain open as places of worship but also as places where the wider community can enjoy a whole range of activities and support that will improve the quality of their lives”.

In 2013, with funding from Historic England and in partnership with Herefordshire Council and Shropshire Rural Communities Council, the toolkit was rewritten and updated in the light of further experience and feedback from church building projects.

“The last few years have seen the movement to open up church buildings for wider community use while remaining living places of worship growing apace. Crossing the Threshold was produced in response to demand from parishes at the beginning of this movement. The need for guidance is even greater now.

The new edition will again provide guidance on how to develop a community project within a church building and how to manage all stages of a building project (which might or might not be a community project). It will take into account the changing funding, community, local government and voluntary sector landscape as well as providing guidance on new funding and governance models that have developed over the last four years”.

New Guidance

The new publication is being undertaken in partnership with the Diocese of Hereford, and was made possible thanks to a grant of £12,000 from Allchurches Trust to the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance, (HRBA). The Diocese of Hereford is contributing £2,000 towards the updating.

The HRBA and the Diocese of Hereford are working alongside an alliance of interested parties to develop the content including: ChurchCare (Cathedral and Church Buildings Division); Parish Resources, Church of England; National Churches Trust and representatives of other denominations.  As far as is possible, the guidance will be applicable to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and cover churches of all Christian denominations.

The Toolkit is being written by a specialist consultant along with contributions from an architect and other professionals, with the material also being checked by a working group of experienced practitioners. It offers step-by-step guidance for parishes beginning to consider making changes to their buildings and who have a vision of opening up their church buildings for wider community use. The new revised resource will include additional guidance on managing building projects and new models of sharing management of church buildings with local communities.

The Toolkit will link to up-to-date resources which provide guidance on how churches can be eco-aware and ensure their new facilities are as environmentally-friendly and energy efficient as possible. It will include new case studies and incorporate best practice learnt from the experience of more recent projects. As before, it will set out the processes by which this is achievable within historic, and very often listed buildings, as well as the need to ensure that the liturgical requirements of a place of worship are balanced with community use.

Release date

The revised document is to be launched at a training event on 3rd November 2017, St Martin in the Bullring, Birmingham. The new resource will be made available online and free to download. Printed versions will be available on request.


The current version of Crossing the Threshold may be accessed on the Diocese of Hereford web site. [Not to be confused with JP II’s Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 1994]. Readers may also find the resources on the HRBA web site of use, particularly the Help and Advice page which includes links to sources of advice on looking after a historic religious building and developing it for wider community use. Crossing the Threshold addresses issues of ecclesiastical and other legislation. HRBA Resources now contain a web page Legal Resources, (Church of England) providing links to relevant legal resources.  Places of worship of other denominations are included on the general ‘Help and Advice‘ page

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Use of church buildings: update of “toolkit”" in Law & Religion UK, 18 August 2017,

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