Bradford's community role highlighted in Govt. cathedrals report

A new report on the role of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals as places of worship and wider community work has commended Bradford Cathedral for encouraging regeneration in the city centre by collaborating with the local authority, developers and the local community.

The report, “Cathedrals and their communities”, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is the culmination of a year-long tour which saw the Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne, visit all of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals to better understand their continued importance both to local communities and wider society.

Bradford was the first cathedral Lord Bourne visited in his tour. As well as being shown around the seeing developments, repairs and refurbishment by the Dean, the Very Revd Jerry Lepine (pictured with Lord Bourne),  he visited community projects in the city, held talks with Near Neighbours, meeting community and religious leaders and visited Bradford City Football Club.

In his brief report he comments on the work of Bradford Cathedral in promoting local economic growth:  “Efforts to bring in visitors have an impact far beyond the cathedral doors. We encountered – most strikingly in Blackburn and Bradford – cathedrals driving regeneration in town and city centres by collaborating with local authorities, developers and the local community.

“This epitomises the changing role of cathedrals in modern Britain and how they are embracing innovation to benefit their local communities.”

Commenting on the report, Dean Jerry Lepine said, "This is a small report that tells a very significant story about the role of cathedrals in this land. The fact that it is written by a government minister is not to be missed. Cathedrals have a real civic connection and convening power that can work for the benefit of communities and regions. As centres of Christian prayer and mission they have a unique ministry the nation. Naturally, I’m thrilled to see that Bradford gets a shout!"

Ripon Cathedral and Wakefield Cathedral were also visited last September.  At Ripon (pictured right), Lord Bourne along with the founder of the Big Issue, Lord John Bird,was shown the work of the Cathedral by Canon Ailsa Newby, and Julia Barker, Operations Director. Canon Newby said, “It’s good to see the Government acknowledging the importance of cathedrals in the community and to see Lord Bourne with us today. As a cathedral, we are keen to be at the centre of the community and its concerns. It’s about a ministry of welcome and hospitality.”

The report highlights cathedrals as diverse churches that are not only important sacred centres of worship but also places of valued social support and community and interfaith engagement.

Minister for Faith Lord Bourne said: “There is no better time to remind ourselves of the strong role cathedrals play in our national life than at Christmas, as worshippers gather in naves across the country to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

“This year-long tour has given me a real understanding of how the innovation and vibrancy displayed by cathedral staff and their congregations is ensuring that these important churches continue to play a crucial role at the heart of local communities now and for centuries to come.”

Read the full report ‘Cathedrals and their Communities’ here

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