Harriet Sherwood raises some interesting questions, but misses a fundamental point (Christmas challenge for vicars with multiple challenges, 23 December). England’s amazing collection of historic rural churches should not be viewed as a liability or a burden. Rather, we should celebrate the existence of such a vast and beautiful array of capital assets, unique in the world and of incomparable historic, social and indeed economic value. Key to their revival is the application of fresh ideas and energy, from which funding and footfall can and do follow. As your author notes, diversification of purpose is essential. Prior to the late 19th century, churches served as multi-purpose centres of activity, both secular and spiritual, social and civic. Our post-Victorian narrowness of vision has in many ways caused the decline of popular usage.
The Churches Conservation Trust has demonstrated many innovative and practical models of working among our 350 exemplar church buildings. Rather than decry the communities who fail to attend, CCT moves that in an increasingly atomised, digital society, the existence of genuinely democratic, accessible spaces, welcome to all, is more necessary than ever.
Chief executive, Churches Conservation Trust