A survey of visitors to Lichfield Cathedral over the summer of 2019 showed that over 60% of visitors feel that the Cathedral belongs to the whole community. The three distinctive spires have been a beacon of hope to the city and its visitors for hundreds of years, and many have found solace and rest within its ancient walls.
Unable to open its doors for the first time in centuries, the Cathedral sought to serve the community in different ways through live streamed daily services, virtual prayer requests and lighting candles, weekly reflections on life in the crisis and resources for spiritual welfare and good mental health online.
The Dean of Lichfield, The Very Revd Adrian Dorber said: “We haven’t been able to open our doors until recently, so our warm welcome has been extended in new ways. As a result we have been evolving and changing our perspectives. We've had more online worshippers at mid-week services than ever before (often ten times the number we would usually see inside the Cathedral) and are even seeing people joining our community internationally from as far away as Bangalore.”
However, like many during this pandemic, Lichfield Cathedral has had challenges to face, difficulties to overcome and priorities that have shifted. Like many households and businesses, cathedrals around the country have been dealing with a difficult financial position, one which saw most of their income streams dry up overnight. The subsequent shortfall left Lichfield Cathedral in a serious situation that needed an urgent refocus of resources. Following a proper period of consultation, Lichfield Cathedral has made the painful decision to make a number of staff redundant including administrative support staff, Visitor Services and closing the shop and café.
Dorber continues, “This has been a painful process for everyone involved. We have benefitted from loyal and dedicated service from many of our staff over many years. We are very grateful for all that the staff team has contributed and the constructive and understanding way they have taken part in discussions.
We do, however look forward with faith to what the future might hold and what opportunities might present themselves to focus our attention on our core purpose as the heart of the community.”
Lichfield Cathedral has recently been successful in securing Heritage Emergency Funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund which has awarded a grant to cover immediate day to day costs such as core staff, essential maintenance, and heating and lighting for a four-month period.
The Dean of Lichfield adds: “We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for recognising the significance of our wonderful Cathedral and helping us navigate one of the most significant challenges we have faced in over a thousand years. We would like to thank National Lottery players, without whom this funding would not have been possible, and hope that they and everyone else will visit us now that our doors are open once more.
“This crisis brings with it unique opportunities and challenges, and over the coming months and years we’ll be doing our best to witness to God’s love and faithfulness and help our communities come to terms with the loss, disruption and uncertainty that the COVID-19 crisis has brought, and consider our mission afresh in a world that is much changed.”
If you would like to support the work of Lichfield Cathedral you can donate online (www.lichfield-cathedral.org), on your next visit to the Cathedral or by texting SPIRES to 70331 to give £3.
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