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Church News

Outside prayer spaces dotted around Salisbury Diocese

by Cara Bentley

The Anglican diocese of Salisbury is encouraging schools and individual land-owners to put up signs reminding people they can pray in outside spaces.

While churches are opening their doors again for individual prayer, many people are still shielding and others may not feel comfortable going inside church buildings yet. 

The Diocese of Salisbury adds that for several rural churches, making sure their buildings are clean and ready for visitors again is not possible at the moment. They have therefore decided to set up local prayer spaces, dotted about the diocese, and put up signs with a praying hands picture to invite people to pray. 

They are to be put outside churches, by streams, footpaths or countryside views. 

Rt Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherbourne, said: "Many people have been using our churchyards and open spaces to say their own prayers during this time of pandemic and communities have created in some places symbolic reminders of hope and peace.

"It will not be easy for all our churches to open, and often people need reminders that they are welcome, and that they can pray.

"This is a simple idea whereby local communities can set aside that outside space in a very visible way."

One of the diocesan rural field officers, Revd Rhona Floate said: "Some of us find prayer comes more naturally out of doors, while others find the atmosphere of a building in which prayer has been offered for centuries helpful. I hope these beautiful signs and the creation of local prayer spaces will encourage those who are seeking a place to pray."

Bishop Karen added that in may not just be a Covid-19 related project: "If this is successful, we can maybe think about permanent signage going forward, using local craftspeople, particularly in a diocese which attracts so many visitors to our towns, villages, coast and country as well as to our churches."

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