Churches across England that moved or shortened their Sunday worship services, hoping for a historic moment as they watched the Lionesses took on Spain in the Women’s World Cup final this weekend, have been defending their decision.
The move, controversial for some, was backed by the Bishop of Derby, Right Rev Libby Lane, who acts as the church’s spokeswoman on Sport.
St Luke’s church in Bournemouth decided to screen the match. Its vicar, Rev Michael Smith, explained that it was a way of connecting with the local community.
“We have these sort of socking great buildings that are often the largest buildings and largest indoor space in the community. And I think to the outside world, they often appear just to be shut off to ordinary people six days a week, or seven days a week. And so for us to do something like this is really important.
“We want to do more things where we can share the space with the community. And I think we have adapt and change a bit to recognise that we do need to do that and reach out more to the community.”
Social media platforms have been inundated with tributes for the Lionesses despite their 1-0 loss to Spain. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby, conveyed his admiration for the team in a tweet.
He wrote: “Commiserations @Lionesses, World Cup 2023 Finalists. We know you gave it everything.
“We admire your talent, grit and determination.
“And congratulations to Spain, who played with such dedication to the end.”
The Church of England’s second most senior cleric, the Archbishop of York, also took to social media to congratulate the Lionesses.
Most Rev Stephen Cottrell said: “Commiserations to the #Lionesses. They can rightly be proud of all they’ve achieved and in the way they have lifted the hearts of the nation in being the first England world cup finalists since 1966. Congratulations to Spain on their win!”