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The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) played host to delegates from Dioceses across England for the annual Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) Conference.

Around 120 delegates were based on the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, near Accrington, from Tuesday until Thursday.

The conference featured on BBC Radio Lancashire at the weekend. Listen here at 1h 52m 50s.

And listen again to Joe Wilson's show on BBC Radio Lancashire for further post-event coverage from Sunday, September 15 from 6am to 9am or afterwards here on BBC iPlayer

Each Diocese of the Church of England has a DAC for the care of churches; to assist and advise parishes in looking after their church buildings.

Each DAC includes members with expertise in particular areas relating to church buildings, such as architecture, organs, archaeology and more.

The conference theme for 2019 of ‘Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’ is inspired by our local Vision 2026 and support for the conference came from all three Bishops in Blackburn Diocese: Rt Rev Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn; Rt Rev Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley and Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, the Bishop of Lancaster, all of whom spoke to delegates over the three days.

While visiting this Diocese for their conference, delegates also travelled out from their hotel base to tour Lancashire for various discussion and workshop sessions in local buildings in the Diocese that have benefited from DAC advice and support.

Local visits on Wednesday included one to Holy Trinity Church in Blackpool where delegates heard first-hand about ministry in a deprived area from vicar Rev Tracy Charnock; and another to Preston St George’s Church where delegates heard about plans for the new ‘Preston Resourcing Parish’ at St George’s and Preston Minster from vicar of Preston, Rev Sam Haigh and vicar of St George’s, Rev David Craven.

Rev Tracy Charnock said: “In recent years we have had support from the DAC in relation to two major restoration projects related to our building.

The work means we can continue to provide an important venue people can use as a community facility, as well as a place of worship.”

On Thursday delegates travelled to Accrington St John – home of the well-known Accrington Pals Memorial Chapel - for an insight into the vision for that church from vicar, Rev Hugh Scriven before travelling to Burnley St Stephen to hear about work at that church from Rev Patrick Senior.

Before the conference, Rev Scriven said: “I am delighted delegates are coming to our church and we will be sharing the story of how it was closed for a number of years before hard work by many, with support from the DAC and the local community, enabled it to be reopened.”

Meanwhile on the Wednesday evening, DAC Conference delegates visited Blackburn Cathedral for dinner where they were hosted by the Dean, the Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, and had a chance to see the recently-completely cloisters development.

During the dinner there was a presentation to the retiring chair of our diocese's DAC, John Tillotson, who was thanksed by Bishop Julian for his many years of service in the role.

Bishop Julian said in the conference handbook: “It is a privilege for us to welcome the 2019 DAC Conference to our Diocese and to the North West.

"We give thanks to God for the work of DACs around the country, in their support for parishes in the care of our built heritage and in the often-complicated task of making them fit for mission and ministry in the 21st century.

 “I hope the conference will be stimulating; enables good ideas to be shared and helps DACs to serve the Church of Jesus Christ with increasing expertise.”

A key local organiser of this year’s DAC Conference, The Venerable Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn, said: “Buildings are integral to parishes being able to do effective mission and outreach to transform their communities.

“Nationally the Church of England has responsibility for around 16,000 church buildings. The important work of DACs in this Diocese and across the country helps to ensure our buildings are fit for purpose and ready to serve their local areas.

“I am delighted the DAC conference has chosen to come north to our Diocese this year. Delegates visiting Lancashire were able to see how we are ensuring large church buildings in this Diocese, many of them built in the 19th century during an age of prosperity, are being adapted today for current needs.

“There has been an incredible amount of work behind the scenes to make sure this year’s DAC Conference is one of the best yet. Particular thanks to my colleagues, DAC Secretary Christine Ellis and the Acting Chair of our DAC, Rev Canon Andrew Holliday, for their support.”

Rev Canon Holliday added: “It was good to welcome people from every Diocese in the Church of England and to be able to share something of the really good and exciting things going on in some of our local parishes, including excellent ministry in our deprived areas and how we are currently reimagining some of our buildings for effective mission.”



Ronnie Semley