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Rural churches welcome local prayer spaces

by Michael Ford last modified 12 Jun, 2020 02:37 PM

Our new Local Prayer Spaces are ideal where it is proving difficult or impossible to open our churches under the present government restrictions.

One such place is Bradford Abbas, which welcomes the launch of this Rural Hope initiative that will welcome people to designated places within our churchyards for private prayer.

The Revd Richard Kirlew, Rural Officer for Dorset, explains:

"In these strange times of Covid-19, going back into our churches can cause issues. This has become very prevalent in this last week, where our churches can now be open for private prayer.

"The problem is that because many of those who look after them are over 70, there are concerns about asking the folk in Bradford Abbas, who normally and unstintingly look after their church, to undertake the cleaning necessary to combat the virus.

"With these points in mind, the Local Prayer Space, working outwith the church is without a doubt a godsend."

Bradford Abbas is a medium-sized village in the Three Valleys Benefice which sits at the top left-hand corner of Dorset, on the boundary with the Diocese of Bath & Wells.

Team Rector Tony Gilbert said:

“It has become very apparent that ‘church’ can and does continue even in the face of adversity and that our church buildings are only an expression of our faith and worship rather than being essential for it.

"Demonstrably, people worship and practice their faith in many different and fruitful ways. New ideas and expressions of our Christian commitment have been found to work, and in some cases seem to work as well as if not better than the old ways.

And Tony says it won't only be Bradford Abbas that will offer Local Prayer Spaces:

"Prayer areas in our churchyards, many of which are both beautiful and peaceful, seem to be a particularly good idea and in keeping with this willingness to try new ways. I am pleased to say that several churches in our benefice are looking at how they might best be established.”

The churchwarden, Mrs Valerie Holdsworth commented:

“We are working towards opening the church fully for private prayer, but in the meantime, seating is available in both the porch and on a bench in the churchyard to enable people to pray quietly.”

Plans are now in progress to enable this project to move forward and serve the people of Bradford Abbas and area.

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