8000 Churches Open Their Doors
The history and architecture of some of England’s most beautiful churches will be on show during the annual ‘Ride+Stride’ on Saturday, 8 September 2012, an open day for churches of all Christian denominations to raise money for their upkeep.
Ride+Stride was started by the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust in 1983 to help churches falling into severe disrepair. Since then, over £29 million has been raised across the country.
The majority of churches will open between 10am and 6pm, offering the opportunity to relax and recharge between journeys: many will serve refreshments.
A number of buildings will open specially, including East Holme Church in Dorset, where wall paintings, texts and Coats of Arms were painted by Lady Selina Bond in the 19th century whilst bringing up 11 children and running a large household.
Those taking part in Ride+Stride are sponsored to raise money for their favourite church or chapel, as well as for the local Church Trust in the county in which they take part. As well as sponsored cyclists and walkers, runners, joggers, horse-riders and mobility scooter users will take part. Visitors are welcome to leave donations.
Popular author Bill Bryson, a Ride+Stride supporter, said: “No feature of the English countryside is more important, or potentially more vulnerable, than its churches. That's why I am so delighted to support Ride + Stride."
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, is a Trustee of the National Churches Trust, which supports the initiative alongside County Churches Trusts nationwide. He said, “Ride + Stride is a wonderful way to discover the churches that lie at the heart of our nation’s heritage and landscape. It’s also a great way to raise money to support the repair and maintenance of churches. With around 8,000 churches open to welcome visitors, there is no better way to discover the history and architecture of the churches which form the centrepiece of so many of our cities towns and villages.”
He added, “Please encourage your friends and family to join you on this fun day out and help raise money for your local church and the County Trust that supports it. It doesn’t matter if you raise £2, £20 or £200. Every penny raised means you will help to save and protect our unique heritage.”
There are around 35,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses in England. Whilst most church buildings are in good or fair condition, a critical number need help. 92% of respondents to the National Churches Trust Survey, published in 2011, said their building was in ‘good’ or ‘fair’ condition, but 8% said that it was poor or very poor. Urgent repairs would cost an average of £80,000 to those buildings in the sample in need of them.
A special Ride+Stride prayer, composed by The Revd Prebendary David Crowhurst has been issued for this year’s event.
Almighty God,in the example of the Saints we have learnt to love you
and worship you, and in the generosity of many generations we are
given our Churches, Chapels and Meeting Houses;
so encourage us in our responsibility to cherish and maintain them
that a lively faith may arise in, and stimulate the praises of,
the generations yet to come;
and call out a spirit of sacrifice and generosity in us all,
especially in support of the annual, national RIDE+STRIDE event,
through Jesus Christ Our Lord.