PROPOSALS that churches should be shared and opened to communities have been welcomed in East Lancashire.

Chairman of the Countryside Alliance Sir Barney White-Spunner said he was concerned that churches in villages and towns were falling into disrepair and not being used enough.

He said he was ‘hugely excited’ about opening up churches to other Christian denominations and used as community centres.

He has also been suggesting in interviews this week that in the longer term churches could be used for other faiths.

Bishop of Burnley John Goddard said he would commend any church that uses their building for a variety if purposes, and to serve the community.

However he said that churches used for other faiths might not be suitable ‘from either perspective’.

Sir Barney said the move could save many churches from under use if they were made into community centres which host local markets, nurseries and even police contact points.

He also added that in his personal view, other faiths could also use churches.

He said: “I personally think that in the long run you can extend it further to other faiths. Britain is changing, as the census has shown.”

Bishop John said: “The Church of England has traditionally been very open to sharing its buildings. Most of our churches have been used for commuity uses from the early middle ages onwards. I know all of my churches have had events in the church building itself. Sharing with other Christian denominations is also common.

“The interfaith area needs careful consideration as I don’t know that use of churches would be suitable from the Christian perspective, or from the perspective of other faiths either.

“It may be that faiths are in the minority country, but in the towns, we tend to find other ways of working together and supporting each other in a variety of ways.”