In a brief debate on Church issues in the House of Commons on Monday
(29th January), Michael Fabricant said that Lichfield Cathedral’s
experience in staging musical and other events should be shared with
clergy in other parts of the country. The extract from Hansard is shown
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): What advice is given by the
commissioners to cathedral chapters on programmes to encourage
non-worshippers to use cathedral spaces.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell): As the hon.
Gentleman knows, such programmes are arranged locally, but the
commissioners are aware that there are all kinds of initiatives to
encourage as many people as possible to visit our cathedrals and
appreciate their special significance.
Michael Fabricant: My hon. Friend has been, at my invitation, to the
Lichfield festival of the arts, which is held mainly in Lichfield
cathedral. I know that he has also been to a number of other
non-worshipping events in the cathedral. He says, rightly, that it is up
to local communities to decide what they can do, but can there not be a
sharing of knowledge between cathedrals and churches about their
activities? Are not the Church Commissioners the ideal fountain to pool
such information and disseminate it to all bodies?
Sir Stuart Bell: I am grateful for that excellent suggestion. I agree
that there ought to be a body to co-ordinate the work of the cathedral
chapters, provide a benchmark and pass on information.
As the hon. Gentleman said, I have visited Lichfield. I know that it has
many visitors, and that some may participate in worship and some may
not. The fact that people visit at all is greatly encouraging, and if
they do worship in the Christian faith, so much the better.
Michael Fabricant now says: "Lichfield Cathedral excels in combining
worship with wider activities which help draw the whole community,
regardless of religion or none, into the wonderful resource which is our
cathedral. We are lucky to have such a wonderful building in our
community which is so alive with activity. I believe we should share
that experience with less imaginative teams who run places of worship."