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London Churches Retract Policy Following Row with Musicians

The Diocese of London has launched on November 1, 2017 a website to cater to musicians looking for church facilities for hire in the city.

In addition to church spaces for hire, the diocese would organize a series of concerts, events, and an annual program of worship.

In a move to mend ties with the music community, the diocese has developed www.musicianschurch.org to inform musicians about the seven churches in the city which could be used in concerts and rehearsals. The website includes specifications such as facilities and capacity of a church space which can be rented, Premier reports.

In addition to church spaces for hire, the diocese would organize a series of concerts, events, and an annual program of worship. Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden and Acting Bishop of London, reiterated the diocese’s high regard for the city’s musicians.

“This Musicians Church Website will celebrate this partnership, through our service to musicians, through our church buildings resounding with the glory and mystery of music, and through our service to all as we live out our love of God and neighbor,” he said in a statement.

Bishop Broadbent said there must be a balance between renting out church spaces and the interest of the parish and its community.

In August this year, St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church in central London decided to prohibit choirs and orchestras from playing non-Christian music. Also known as The National Musicians’ Church, St. Sepulchre’s explained that there were various worship and church activities that kept the space fully booked.

The music world criticized the church’s plan. Many prominent names in the music community signed a letter of protest denouncing St. Sepulchre’s policy. One of UK’s best-known composers, John Rutter, was vocal about his displeasure with the church’s decision. He said the church had “betrayed” musicians.

Bishop Broadbent said there must be a balance between renting out church spaces and the interest of the parish and its community. “It is sometimes not an easy balance to strike,” the bishop said, according to Church Times.

Dr. Andrew Earis, a former director of music at St Sepulchre’s, is looking forward to the diocese’s initiative of an “open and inclusive” National Musicians’ Church. “If we get this right, it could provide a blueprint for a new model of church partnership and a beacon of hope for the whole Church of England.”

Sources:
Premier
Church Times

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