Michael Palin backs campaign to safeguard future of churches

Sir Michael Palin is backing a campaign to safeguard the future of churches across the UK.

The National Churches Trust has launched what it describes as a debate to highlight the struggles of buildings around the country after warning an increasing number are facing closure.

The future of churches debate will highlight “the community, economic, heritage and spiritual benefits of churches”, the charity said.

National Television Awards 2020 – Arrivals – London
Sir Michael Palin said churches remain a vital part of the country’s heritage (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Monty Python star Sir Michael, vice president of the National Churches Trust, warned pandemic-era restrictions have resulted in reduced funding and fewer worshippers, posing a threat to the future of the buildings.

He said: “Yet churches remain a vital and much-loved part of the UK’s history and heritage and we can’t let them fall into neglect and disuse.

“There is hope. More and more churches are adapting to the modern world and the needs of their communities, providing not just spiritual comforts but a range of valuable services to local people such as foodbanks and youth clubs.

“We must build on this and encourage people of all sorts and from all backgrounds to find hope and relevance in their local churches.”

Veteran broadcaster Sir Michael, 78, added: “If you care as much as I do about the future of these much loved buildings, do get involved with the National Churches Trust debate about the future of churches and help shape their future.“

The number of churches open and being used for worship has fallen from around 42,000 to 39,800 in the last 10 years, the National Churches Trust said, citing research from The Brierley Research Consultancy.

Closure has been particularly acute in some inner-city areas, the charity added.

It is publishing a church buildings manifesto with 16 essays.

For more information, visit: www.nationalchurchestrust.org