Churches offer cool spaces during heatwave

Published: Tuesday July 19, 2022

People sitting inside Christ Church Cheltenham during the heatwaveChurches across Gloucestershire have responded to the impact of the heatwave by remaining open to the public throughout the week.

Christ Church Cheltenham offered its space for those who might need a break from the heat, which was even picked up by the national media.

Gill Heron, a member of Christ Church, said: “With the reports of hot weather and such intense heat we decided to open up the church as a community space.

“Our large, airy church is the perfect place to come into to cool down. We have a team of volunteers who have been hosting the church for visitors, to whom we’re very grateful. We moved our regular Monday toddler group into the church as well. We’ve had a steady stream of visitors, mums cooling off after their school run and passers-by calling in. We’ve also invited the local primary school families to come in after school today for a family-friendly film in the cool.”

The Revd Simon Heron added, “Church buildings have been places of sanctuary for generations and at a time when people need somewhere be away from intense heat, it’s a joy to offer this space for our community.”

Similarly, Mark Bick, a Reader from Mid-Wyedean parish, said, “When the heatwave first began, we immediately offered our churches in our parish as cool spaces, to local schools and communities. At Staunton, Newland, Clearwell and Redbrook churches particularly, we put water in the porches for dogs and offered water bottles and refreshments. The children’s area at Newland Church has also been appreciated by visitors ”

Gloucester Cathedral has been a haven for people needing respite from the heat. Hazel Tanner, the Cathedral’s Visitor Welcome Manager, said, “Thankfully, the whole Cathedral stays quite cool. We’ve welcomed many visitors these past few days who have appreciated getting out of the sun, and the Crypt tours have been particularly popular – this must be one of the coolest places in the county!”

Sallie Mumford, Children and Families Minister at St Michael’s and All Angels, Bishop’s Cleeve said, “On Monday, we held our last Praise & Play toddler group of the term in the church instead of in St Michael’s Hall. The families were really thankful that we could still run the session rather than cancelling it because of the heat. Some hadn’t been inside the church building before and were in wonder and appreciation of the whole place.”

With the increase in temperatures becoming more common, making these buildings available as sanctuaries from the heat will be an ongoing offering.

Church buildings across the country, and in our diocese, have registered to become Eco Churches – where parishes review what they are already doing to care for creation and then take further steps to gain an Award (bronze, silver or gold) as part of our broader commitment to become a net zero-carbon diocese by 2030.

As we start to feel the effects of climate change more strongly, we’re renewing our #EcoChurchInAnHour campaign, asking our churches to pledge an hour a week to taking small steps towards becoming greener. Find out more about our campaign here.

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