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Rural Areas

Volume 519: debated on Tuesday 30 November 2010

9. What steps the Church Commissioners are taking to support the work of the Church of England in rural areas. (27054)

The Church of England has a presence in almost every rural settlement and village in England and plays an important and intricate role in rural community life.

Village congregations play an important part in community life in my constituency. What can the Church Commissioners do to support the widest possible use of church buildings?

My hon. Friend raises an important point about the use of church buildings. The cathedral and church buildings division of the archbishops’ council has been working for the last five years to help congregations do everything that they can to work with communities to identify how church buildings can be used creatively to serve the widest community use. We now see extended use of church buildings, including as post offices, shops, libraries, internet cafes, benefit advice centres and citizens advice centres. Wherever possible, we want to see churches as living buildings where as much community activity as possible takes place, and the Church Commissioners will always support such activity.

No one is more grateful for the end of that answer than the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous).