Furnishings no longer needed for worship

Over the centuries, each generation has renewed and added to the rich inheritance of furnishings for liturgy, devotion, mission and remembrance in our church buildings. From time to time, individual items may go out of use and others take their place.

We have a careful process for dealing with items which are no longer needed for church life.

Church altar at St Peter's church, Highfield

Remember: This process of renewal and change must be carefully managed to make sure that the needs of the present generation are served with proper respect to the faith and contribution of past generations.

Do you need permission?

The permanent or long-term removal of an item from a church is called a disposal.

In the majority of cases a disposal will need faculty

In your application, include:

  • A statement of significance which describes the significance of the item and assesses the harm that will arise from its disposal.
  • A statement of needs setting out why you no longer need the item and how disposing of it will benefit mission and worship.

The disposal of historic, archaeological or artistic items will harm the significance of the church.

You need to show how the need for mission and the benefits for worship outweigh that harm.

What are your options?

Decisions on disposals follow a basic principle:

Moveable items do not belong to the Parochial Church Council. They belong to the parishioners at large. And the churchwardens act as custodians on their behalf.

When assessing your application, the chancellor will consider the following options:

Keeping the church’s property intact
Giving the item to another parish
Loaning the item to your diocesan treasury or a museum
Selling the item

Types of furnishings

Fonts
Organs
Seating

Remember: A proposal to dispose any item of significance needs to be supported by a statement of significance and needs.

Include a willingness to record the item to a suitable standard and deposit the record in an archive as well as your inventory and terrier. This will provide some mitigation of the harm to its significance.

How to dispose of your furnishings

Once you have your permission for disposal, you can look for a home for your item in your diocese:

Contact your diocesan furnishings officer

You can advertise more widely to all dioceses and other interested bodies:

Advertise on the central contents register. This is a list maintained by the Church Commissioners and is updated every three months. It includes details of specialist groups which can help find suitable homes for some types of item (e.g. bells, organs, stained glass). Contact the Church Commissioners to advertise on the register (select the Enquiry Topic of Church Property and land)

Our role in the process

The Church Buildings Council advises parishes and dioceses on proposed disposals.

We give advice on a case by case basis for items of special interest.

It is mandatory for the chancellor to consult us about the disposal of items under Rule 9.6. If there has been early consultation with us it can satisfy these requirements. 

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