It’s one year since we all met, many for the first time, at our conference in Canterbury. What a wonderful time we had there, everyone enjoyed the fabulous location by the cathedral, the well-organised venue and most importantly, the excitement of being together as a group of people with a shared interest across Europe.
What was also very special about those three days was the huge amount of experience shared, contacts made and the practical work that was done: facilitated very cleverly by Trevor Cooper. We all agreed that this was a historic opportunity to set up our new network, now known as Future Religious Heritage (FRH). There was also strong agreement on what the network should aim to do. Members’ views expressed at the conference are constantly referred back to as the Council plans the future.
Of course it was only once we’d all gone home that the really difficult work began. Faced with our own jobs to do, busy lives and huge geographical distances, it’s tough to follow up on the vision and inspiration of those three days in Canterbury. We don’t have enough money or time to be able to do things as quickly as we would want or to meet everyone’s aspirations. Setting up a new network requires, patience, focus, and time. Those of us who are very involved feel impatience every step of the way.
But look at what has been achieved since Canterbury. We now have a formally constituted organisation (ASBL) with a part time worker, Leena Seim. We have the money for the first year (which runs out in July) and we have an active and strong Council which is beginning to run a series of projects to take us to the next stage. Most importantly we have growing numbers of members: you and your colleagues, who are part of this network and on whom the future will depend.
FRH in the future will be what you make of it. The foundation stones are in place and the Council is ready to act on your behalf. Now you need to become involved. Think back to the energy you felt at Canterbury and think forward about what you’re going to do in the next year to help us make sure historic places of worship begin to take their rightful place in the cultural life of Europe.
Chair of Council