A warm welcome

A PAIR of parish churches have been chosen together as one of the three most welcoming churches in Britain – and will now feature in a 2007 calendar. St Mary with St Ethelreda and the Holy Trinity, Burwell and Reach, were awarded third place in the Eccles

A PAIR of parish churches have been chosen together as one of the three most welcoming churches in Britain - and will now feature in a 2007 calendar.

St Mary with St Ethelreda and the Holy Trinity, Burwell and Reach, were awarded third place in the Ecclesiastical Insurance competition.

The aim of the competition is to recognise those churches that have been most successful in adapting to a modern society and changing local communities.

The Rev Stephen Earl, Vicar of St Mary's, received the £500 prize at a presentation ceremony on Tuesday in York Minster. The curate serving Reach is the Rev Gill Smith.


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"We are delighted with the result," said Philip Baker, secretary of the local parochial church council.

According to the organisers, St Mary with St Ethelreda and the Holy Trinity, which fall in the Ely Diocese, had impressed through a number of initiatives.

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Not only did the churches change the pattern of services to suit old and young parishioners, they have also opened a community shop - called CentrePeace - and built links with the local villages and church groups in Bansin, in Germany, and Sarospatak, in Hungary.

The churches have also concentrated on listening to the views of the local community. These are gathered through a parish conference, community questionnaires, baptism questionnaires and new contact cards.

Very Rev Keith Jones, Dean of York, who was at the awards, said initiatives such as those being used by St Mary with St Ethelreda and the Holy Trinity are important for the church.

"Church communities cannot survive by trying to resuscitate the past," he said. "Ecclesiastical's competition is a challenge to them to become vital centres of life and inspiration for today."

The winning church was St Andrew's, Kettering, followed by St Mary's, Shirehampton, near Bristol. They received £1,500 and £750, respectively.

All 12 finalists feature in Ecclesiastical's 2007 calendar, which goes on sale at the CentrePeace outreach shop, Burwell, soon. The local church appears under the month of March.

Ecclesiastical Insurance was founded in 1887 to provide insurance for the Anglican Church. It specialises in insuring churches, charities, schools, the care sector and historic buildings.

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