Press & Communications

28 Nov 2013

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester attended a Service to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the National Churches Trust at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 28th November 2013.

A charity supported by voluntary contributions and which receives no financial support from government, the National Churches Trust has, over the last sixty years, allocated grants and loans worth £85 million to help repair and modernise Christian places of worship.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall who said in his Bidding: ‘We can so easily take for granted and even ignore the religious and cultural riches we have inherited from the past. We should instead recognise them, cherish them, and work to preserve them. The network of 47,000 parish and local churches throughout our land is quite extraordinarily rich and wonderful. Every community, however small, however deprived, however new, has a church, and often more than one. In all of them people gather to do what we must do if we are to retain our balance, our true sense of ourselves: to worship almighty God.

‘And many churches reflect God’s beauty. Of the 16,000 Church of England parish churches, 12,000 are listed as special. But many of them are demanding for their communities to maintain and some are at risk. So today we gather to thank God and to praise his holy name for the work over the past sixty years of the National Churches Trust, supporting communities in preserving their church, their place of worship.’

Testimonies were given by Rosemary Mason, St Mary de Castro, Leicester; Olwen Jenkins, St David’s Church, Llandewi Aberarth; and Philippa King, Memorial Community Church, Plaistow. The testimonies were given in interviews conducted by Huw Edwards, BBC broadcaster and Vice-President, National Churches Trust.

Bear Grylls, adventurer, author and television presenter, read Genesis 28: 10-18 and Bettany Hughes, historian, author and broadcaster, read 1 St Peter 2: 4-9.

Geraldine James OBE, actor, read Please Close This Door Quietly by the Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Williams of Oystermouth, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The prayers were led by the Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon and Sacrist of Westminster, and said by: Clare Walker, Chief Executive, National Churches Trust; The Reverend Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, Superintendent Minister, Wesley’s Chapel, London; the Right Reverend Lorna Hood, Moderator, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; the Most Reverend George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff; Luke March, Chairman, National Churches Trust; the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury and Trustee, National Churches Trust; and the Reverend Professor Vernon White, Canon Theologian, Westminster Abbey.

The Address was given by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Daniel Cook, Sub-Organist, and before the service by Martin Ford, Assistant Organist.

See also:

The Order of Service (PDF, 305 KB)

The Address given by the Archbishop of Canterbury (audio)

The Address given by the Archbishop of Canterbury (transcript) 

The National Churches Trust website

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