A great Yorkshire welcome…

Last week I attended one day of the Church of England’s DAC conference, being held in Hull.

The conference was hosted by the Diocese of York, on the theme of ‘Open and Welcoming Churches’. I got an invite because of my church tourism background (and the fact that I am local), and I am proud to say that Yorkshire did not disappoint.

Hull and the surrounding area is not the first place that many people would think of when talking about church tourism, or tourism in general. However, it has a number of wonderful greater churches, and a wealth of smaller parish churches bursting with beautiful architecture, fascinating heritage and warm and welcoming people.

Despite a somewhat grey day, we visited some inspirational churches, great not only because of their buildings but also for their vision for the future of their community and the welcome they give to all visitors.

Particularly inspirational was a visit to St Andrew, Paull.

A church with a vision for the 21st century, the church has recently added toilet facilities and a kitchen, runs a cafe for the community and visitors, has regular events and activities and is currently installing wifi that will broadcast to the whole community (the first in the country to do so), making the church the key place in the village.

Church volunteers provided a tasty (and locally sourced) lunch, and weren’t phased at all by 120 people descending on them for an hour of poking around and asking questions.

You might be thinking then that the church is at the centre of a bustling community, and gets passing visitors everyday. In fact, it is at the end of a spit of land, not on the way to anywhere and definitely not close to any honey-pot attractions.  However, their activities have seen a huge increase in the number of people using the church, and in visitors making the deliberate trip to experience their welcome.

No wonder then that this is where the Churches Tourism Association chose this welcoming church to launch a new CD Rom all about church tourism – the nitty gritty of why, how and what the benefits are of being open and welcoming to visitors.

Perhaps churches wanting to do something similar should take a trip up to Paull, it certainly would not be wasted!

Find out more about St Andrew, Paull on their website: http://standrewpaull.wordpress.com/blog/

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