St Bartholomew’s in Failand is a much-loved church, but is in an isolated location, and with and aging congregation which is struggling to attract young people they are aware their funding is dwindling.
But an article in The Daily Telegraph and a feature on the BBC’s Countryfile has led Churchwarden Chris Sage to find a creative solution to open their beautiful church up to a wider audience and bring in much needed funds, by opening their church for camping.
Chris says, “When I heard about church camping I thought it sounded interesting so I contacted the Church Conservation Trust to find out more, and they came and visited us. They loved the church and the location – and the fact that we had electricity and a flushing toilet. In the end however, we have gone ahead on our own. We are lucky in that there are lots of places of interest in the area, with the National Trust’s Tytesfield nearby and Bristol Harbourside and Ashton Court just 10 minutes away.”
The Revd Julie Harris, Curate for the Parish of Wraxall and Failand, says, “It’s amazing that we can offer this building for people to come and stay, and just feel the spiritual warmth and wealth of the church and the history that’s gone behind it. From a missional perspective, people will want to come and even just do a retreat as it’s a great area to meet God. It’s also a brilliant initiative that says ‘our church is for everybody’. It’s not just for those who worship, it’s for everyone and that’s pure discipleship. I’m not quite excited about this I can’t wait for our first guest.”
While there is plenty of excitement about the initiative there are some natural nerves too. Julie added: “There’s the logistics of everything. We do worship here and it has to be treated as a worship centre, so there’s a slight nervousness about people treating our building with the respect it deserves. That’s the only reservation that I have, but I’m so pleased that we can welcome people into this building because that’s what it needs. It needs to be loved by everybody not just by the congregation but everybody that comes to stay and I’m sure they will just leave with a spiritual peace.”
You can read about the different ways churches are making the most of their buildings in the latest edition of Manna