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New help for musicians after St Sepulchre controversy

A new website helping artists hire church venues throughout the capital has been unveiled by the Diocese of London after St Sepulchre's Without Newgate Church in Holborn barred secular performances, citing increasing demand for bookings.

Acting Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent said: "The Diocese has a role to play in facilitating and encouraging stronger relationships between the Church in London and the musical community, including making it easier for musicians to access rehearsal and concert space.

"The wide coverage of these matters has convinced me that we need to improve access to churches which are willing and able to provide such space."

Bishop Pete praised the Rector and Parochial Church Council at St Sepulchre's for being willing to engage with him over last month's controversial decision, but added he had told leaders the Church of England should be "welcoming" and "inclusive".

He added: "I recognise that the hiring of space in churches, and in particular providing space for musicians to rehearse and perform, need to be balanced with all the activity that a parish and community wants and needs to take place. It is sometimes not an easy balance to strike."

Bishop Pete added that St Sepulchres would continue to be known as the spiritual home of the National Musicians' Chapel.

Referring to the new website, he said: "I do hope this will also allow us to help support and encourage new musicians, as they form ensembles, and bring together family, friends and the wider public to enjoy the creativity and celebration of God-given musical talent.

"I am confident that these steps, along with a clearer programme of activities at St Sepulchre, will start to rebuild confidence in our partnerships and focus our minds on growth. Growth in the work of the church, growth in the use of our buildings, and growth in the music performed in our churches."

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