FRH brings together those who work to protect religious heritage across Europe.
FRH members include NGOs, charities, government, religious and university departments.
FRH is a not for profit, non-religious organisation open to all.
FRH is the only organisation of its kind.
Religious heritage represents by far the largest single category of European cultural patrimony and is one to which Europeans remain highly attached – see a recent FRH survey.
Across Europe, churches and other religious buildings are being increasingly used for purposes other than worship. Extended use includes not only social outreach and community activities such as concerts, conferences and exhibitions, but also the conversion of parts of buildings for secular purposes.
Places of worship already attract large numbers of visitors – Europe’s two most popular sites are both churches – Notre-Dame (13 million annually) and the Sacré-Coeur (11 million),
However, the potential of the treasures held in smaller buildings and which merit the title of the ‘Europe’s Biggest Museum’ is still largely underexploited.
The sector is witnessing a sharp rise in local associations, often including non church goers, dedicated to the support of their church building, its contents and its history.
These developments rely essentially on volunteer effort. A survey carried out in 2011 by the National Churches Trust with the help of McKinsey counted 1.4 million in the UK, by far and away the largest volunteer group in the country.
This contribution to strengthening civil society is particularly important in rural areas where churches are often the last remaining community building.
Current funding and management structures of this heritage – whether by individual parish (UK and Netherlands), by local municipality (France and Belgium) or by a dedicated organisation financed by a church tax (most of the rest of Europe) – are all coming under increasing pressure as the traditional implicit support for religious buildings is reduced.
To maintain funding an explicit case based on social and economic value now needs to be made.
At the same time, management structures, often under-resourced and having to accommodate to the conflicting needs of different stakeholders, are having to adapt to new methods of working.
FRH sets out to:
▪ Understand the challenges facing religious heritage and the various measures that need to be taken to help it adapt successfully to the needs of the 21st century.
▪ Build a Network of support organisations across Europe to share expertise and best practice.
▪ Convince Policy Makers in Brussels of the economic and social importance of religious heritage.
▪ Promote appropriate pan-European Projects
FRH is the only European network of charities, governmental, religious and university departments, that work to protect religious heritage buildings across Europe. It is a not for profit, non-religious organisation open to all peoples.
- Promote Europe’s rich religious heritage, which is a shared resource for cultural, social and economic development.
- Raise awareness of the threats facing Europe’s religious heritage.
- Provide a communication platform for those working to protect Europe’s religious heritage.
- Share expertise and experience on common challenges as well as promote successful national or regional initiatives at a European level.
- Identify areas where a Europe-wide response is appropriate and influence policy-makers on behalf of our members.
Religious heritage buildings are under threat across Europe. Shrinking congregations, financial distress and lack of knowledge about conserving the buildings and treasures held within them, all contribute to this impeding loss of a substantial collection of testaments to European history and intangible heritage. FRH was formed with support from numerous organisations in several European countries to create a unified voice for the many European organisations that are working hard to mitigate the detrimental consequences of this trend for religious heritage. FRH acts as a link between practitioners and policymakers and as a platform for communication across countries, cultures and religions, exchanging knowledge and experience of common issues.
Registered in Belgium and with offices in London and Brussels, FRH was established in 2009, and registered in 2011. Our members include charities, governmental institutions, university departments and dedicated individuals from over 30 European countries.
A group of organisations concerned with the future of historic places of worship from a number of European countries met in the UK in 2009 to discuss the need for and possibility of greater collaboration within similar organisations across Europe on key policy issues. They organised a forum event in Canterbury 2010, where concerns were raised and common ground established. 57 delegates from over 20 European countries participated in the discussions and it was agreed that there is great need for a network organisation.