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St. John’s, West Bay

St. John’s, West Bay, Dorset

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St.John’s is a relatively modern church, only dating from 1936. It is right at the heart of the small and increasingly popular community of West Bay. It is open every day although it could probably do with a sign outside to direct people in.

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It is a lovely little church with a definite nautical theme! – as befits the situation it is in next to the small harbour. I counted 44 entries in the visitors book this month so far. There is an open Bible and lots of ship models about. A ‘Fisherman’s Mission’ display is well thought out.

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A pebble pool can be used for prayers…

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But there could do with being somewhere for people to leave prayer requests. The church website is at http://www.bridport-team-ministry.org and visitors are welcomed and acknowledged as being important.

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This is a wonderful little church in a great spot.

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St. Leonard’s, Southminster

St. Leonard’s, Southminster

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Southminster is a sleepy little town dominated by the bulk of St. Leonard’s. It is unfortunately locked which seems hard to understand in a place like this. The church website is at http://stleonardsouthminster.org.uk/ but doesn’t give anything away about being open! The church also features one of my pet hates, this sign…

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Assuming it is not meant to express irony, it is hard to see how a locked church building offers much of a welcome….

St. Mary the Virgin Burnham on Crouch

St. Mary the Virgin, Burnham on Crouch

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This is a lovely church in the delightful small town of Burnham on Crouch. The church was open and provides a peaceful and cool place. It is well signed and easy to find with a welcome notice as well as advertising their Messy Church.

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There is a good selection of leaflets available here covering worship, baptisms, weddings and funerals. These are very well written and fulfil a need. There is a guide on sale and a selection of greetings cards as well as mugs, pens, bookmarks, key fobs and tea towels. Some 7 people had put entries in the visitor’s book in the last month. There is also information about the Guild of All Souls (see http://www.guildofallsouls.org.uk/ for details of this).

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What is good about this church is the thought that has gone into enabling prayer. Not only is there information about the Guild of Souls, but there is a nice votive stand set in the Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria with prayer request cards.

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One thing that caught my eye was this sign—-

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I have never seen this done before. Here is a church which takes the lectionary seriously! The church website is at http://www.stmarysburnham.co.uk which has a lot of information on it but could do with something specifically about visitors.

St. James the Less, Hadleigh (Essex)

St. James the Less, Hadleigh

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I have been staying in London for a few days. It has been very hot so it was good to escape to the Essex countryside today and explore a few places, one of which was Hadleigh. A bustling place on the busy A13. It was unfortunately locked – as many churches seem to be in Essex. There is a church website at http://www.hadleighchurch.org.uk which doesn’t give any details of when the church might be open outside of service times. All rather disappointing.

 

The Church Tourism Study

Welcome to the website of the Church Tourism Study. Here you will find details of some of the churches I have visited so far about 700 now.DSCN0510

The aim of this study is to gain an idea of what is being provided for the many visitors to or churches. This seems to be a growing phenomena and many churches are surprised at just how many visitors they are getting. Our Monday to Saturday congregation is often much bigger than our Sunday one but the provision churches are making for their visitors is patchy. Some are very good and some are very poor. You will find examples of all these here.  There is a bias towards the south of the country because of where I live. The Church Tourism Study is now located in Dorset.

My latest project is a survey of the churches of Hertfordshire and you can find some of these entries here, not all churches I have visited are put on this site. This has been very enjoyable with some interesting churches in this often overlooked county.

In addition, I have been busy sending out questionnaires to several hundred churches up and down the country. This has been providing some fascinating  information about what is actually happening. All this information is being written up for a book on visitor ministry.

I hope that you enjoy looking at my reports and pictures. All opinions expressed are my own. It has never been my intention to denigrate churches but it has become obvious that many could do an awful lot better in this area. It is not hard and the benefits in ministering to our visitors are enormous.Do comment if you wish to or get in touch at churchtourismstudy@yahoo.com

St. Peter & St. Paul, Blandford Forum

St. Peter & St. Paul, Blandford Forum

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It is always good to be able to report good news. I had visited this church before and found it locked which was a shame in a place like Blandford. However, it is now open and is welcoming and a very interesting place to visit. A large and imposing Georgian building which dominates the centre of the small town.

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The door was open, with a simple sign ‘Open for Prayer’. Inside it was cool and peaceful with a well signposted prayer area. There was a simple guide to the church (the larger guide book is out of print and being revised) and some postcards, prayer cards and other cards for sale. It was interesting to look at the prominent visitors book and the comments put in it – all of them appreciative. There were 33 this month already.

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The prayer area is well thought out with prayer books and other resources to help people to pray as well as a bowl with stones (with a provocative notice ‘Just let it go’) and a prayer tree and candles to light. This all looked well used which is excellent and shows how a parish church can reach out to those around by just being there and being available.

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This is a church which is undergoing much needed repairs and there is literature  about this and a website at http://www.cuploaproject.org.uk which is worth look at, as well as an active facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=the%20cupola%20project

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They deserve a lot of support to keep this historic building in good repair as well as ministering to the community. There is a website for the church at http://www.bfpc.org.uk/ which doesn’t say much, however it is only temporary so, hopefully, there will be some visitor information on the new one. Be that as it may, go and have a look at this lovely church!

St. Mary’s, Bridport

St. Mary’s, Bridport

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St. Mary’s is in the centre of town. A place busy when people when I called in. The church is open each day and there is a good sign or two to help draw people in. It is a shame that the website, at http://www.bridport-team-ministry.org/churches/bridport/ doesn’t say this. It is certainly worth going to see.

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Inside, I found some lights on and a welcoming interior. There is a welcome table opposite the door which is a nice idea. In general this is a place where a lot of effort has gone into welcoming people between services. There is a brief guide (free) and a laminated sheet to use also a prayer board and a votive stand – both well used as you would expect. There are displays on church life with some good cards to take away.

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A refreshment area is provided as well for visitors with notices encouraging it’s use. In the chancel, there is a prayer table with a bowl of water and pebbles, all with some suggestions how these could be used for prayer. There was also some interpretation notices on the altar and some memorials – we mustn’t assume that people know what these things are or how they are used!

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There was also a ‘Calendar of Saints Days’ book open on the right page! St. Mary’s is well worth a visit.

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