Step 1 - Create a Mission Plan - Conservation & Listed Buildings


The Methodist Church has a high number of Methodist Chapels, many of which are listed for their special interest and rarity as well as being important distinctive landmarks within the country’s settlements and wider countryside. From their construction the chapels became part of the community, offering a range of activities beyond their spiritual role. Their survival is evidence of the social movement in both industrial and non-industrial communities and as such holds an important role in our history. However, whilst listed building designation recognises this significance and offers it statutory protection it does not prevent adaption or change. Indeed, sustainable development and sensitive adaptation is welcome if we are to adapt our buildings for modern practices of worship or to accommodate partnerships and secular uses.

As well as being spiritual landmarks historic churches can play a wider role. They can be spaces to mark life events, spaces for comfort, spaces for compassion and support, spaces to explore heritage, spaces for fun and young people, or spaces for culture. In order to ensure they are spaces for everyone we encourage each church to consult widely with their local community. Community consultation resources tailored for Historic Places of Worship have been produced by Empowering Design Practice including Transforming Historic Places of Worship through Community Engagement.

Remember, even those within the community who do not attend worship may value your building, so consult widely and consider the benefits of a Friends Group. Investigate new ways to put your church at the heart of the local community.  Please speak to TMCP Legal who may be able to help you explore this idea.  

In order to secure sustainable development and a realistic vision within a historic church complex a staged approach should be adopted. This will allow congregations to understand the character of the building and what makes it significant, consider where change could be accommodated and create an informed proposal. Further information on this staged approach can be found in Methodist and Nonconformist Chapels in Cornwall: Guidance and Assessment Framework, which although focussed on Cornwall can be used generically. 

For information on how our historic places of worship can retain or renew their value at the heart of communities, with their significance sustained or enhanced, see the Strategic Action Plan for Historic Places of Worship in Wales and for information on the basic principles of making changes to places of worship, including the interior and exterior, and on assessing significance please see New Work in Historic Places of Worship. Historic England’s guidance note on Easy Access to Historic Buildings can help you think about how to develop sensitive and sympathetic proposals to make historic buildings accessible, inclusive and welcoming to all.

Remember, that the church’s heritage value can form part of your mission, through school’s engagement, faith tourism, church crawling, pilgrimage and heritage trails, or the annual Heritage Open Days event. All our buildings are potentially ‘heritage’ assets for mission: historic, listed or not, to brand new, they have been built or acquired to respond to our calling, and to do so within the Methodist tradition, so that the Methodist story of faith can be told, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ be proclaimed. New buildings and more recent worshipping communities may have old roots, which go back several hundred years and in some cases stretch out across the globe. The deep heritage of Methodist witness needs to be identified during the mission planning process or during a property review, as a valuable opportunity to explore rootedness, authenticity and purpose.  You can listen to the talk given by the Heritage Officer on an Introduction to Heritage and Buildings from the Property Roadshow.  

Consider also, whether the adoption of insightful, inspiring and practical training and resources in digital skills could help encourage engagement with your mission and your building. Furthermore, it’s vital to understand the role our historic buildings can play in meeting the demands of climate change, which can also be an important missional aspiration. This should include improvements to the building’s setting, including burial grounds where they exist, as these can be a haven for wildlife, places for people and also sites for events and learning. 

Also, remember that trustees of other listed buildings have already embarked upon this journey. It is important to take advantage of the Connexional nature of our denomination and visit these churches to ask questions and learn from their experiences. For examples of good practice that demonstrate how change can be accommodated we suggest you look at these:   

 And finally, whilst we may not consider maintenance of our buildings to form part of our mission, it is imperative that churches adopt an effective annual maintenance regime and maintenance plan, as well as ensuring the production of useful and accurate Quinquennial Inspection reports

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