5 minutes with...
...CAROLINE RAWLINGS, who coordinates Open Churches Week in Norfolk
How many churches will be open?
Most of the 600 churches are normally open all year round, but some open especially for the week, which runs from Saturday, August 5, to Sunday, August 13.
Is there a theme this year?
The theme is Our Parish and the World. Over the centuries, Norfolk and Waveney have had strong connections with the wider world, through trade, conflict, migration and tourism. There are many stories to be told in our churches and churchyards about how our ancestors travelled the world, how people came to the UK, and about current overseas links. There are also ongoing official links and friendships that bring parishes together with people leading very different lives in far-away places. Just one example is Woodbastwick church which serves a village of only 100 people, but has past and present links to at least three other continents! Another is the diocesan link with Papua New Guinea and the Diocese of Lulea in Sweden. Each parish has unique stories to share with visitors and locals alike and this year’s Open Churches Week aims to celebrate these connections to the wider world.
What are some of the highlights?
There are so many to choose from. It is the 10th anniversary of the car rally which marks the start of the week and on Sunday, August 6, there is the annual St Benet’s Abbey ecumenical open air service.
Our amazing churches also always seem to be able to deliver that little extra to welcome visitors so every year is really special. You can find a list of events happening across the diocese during the week at www.dioceseofnorwich.org/open/
Will there be anything new?
This year the Diocese of Norwich launched a photography competition aimed at testing entrants’ creative photography skills by capturing what they thought the church in action was. The overall aim was for entrants to show how the church, whether as a building or a group of people, is serving their community. The entries were shortlisted down to 12 photos, which toured Norfolk to be judged by the public as well as a panel of judges. The winners are going to be announced at Wymondham Abbey on August 13, which I think will be a lovely way to end a fantastic week!
Above: Caroline Rawlings, church development officer, coordinates Open Churches Week in Norwich Diocese
The Bishop of Norwich ,The Rt Revd Graham James, arrives at St Benets Abbey by wherry on the Broads to lead a special open air service St Benet’s Abbey the former wealthy Benedictine house of Anglo-Saxon foundation
A free guide to churches in Norfolk and Waveney which are open weekdays, as well as Sundays, can be picked up at tourist information centres and libraries and is online at www.dioceseofnorwich. org/visiting/guides