Why Anne keeps an eye on the churches

She is more used to helping to look after a north Norfolk country church - but now Anne Sloman is taking on the responsibility for keeping a close eye on 16,000 Church of England religious sites across the country.

She is more used to helping to look after a north Norfolk country church - but now Anne Sloman is taking on the responsibility for keeping a close eye on 16,000 Church of England religious sites across the country.

Mrs Sloman, from Sharrington, was named on Monday as the new chairman of the Church Buildings Council, which supports dioceses and parishes in their stewardship of churches.

Advising on the guardianship of some of the nation's largest churches from October may seem a steep learning curve for Mrs Sloman, as she is more familiar with helping to maintain All Saints' Church in her home village.

All Saints' dates back to the 14th century and only has a regular congregation of about a dozen.


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As a member of the parochial church council, the 65-year-old former BBC chief political adviser is helping to raise �100,000 for roof works.

For Mrs Sloman, the experience of looking after that small church has provided invaluable experience, so that in the future she can advise dioceses and parishes on caring for, preserving and promoting churches across England.

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Speaking of her new, wider role, she said: 'This is a fantastic challenge and opportunity to preserve our churches in all their glory in the heart of the English landscape and communities.

'I have always regarded the heritage of so many beautiful churches as a blessing, not a burden, and to become chairman of the council is a great honour.'

The Church Buildings Council is a new statutory body that came into force last year from the ashes of the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches and the Council for the Care of Churches.

Mrs Sloman will become

the chairman in October when the present chairman, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, Dean of St Paul's, steps

down.

She sits on the Archbishops' Council, which shapes Church of England policy, and is vice-chairman of the Norfolk Community Foundation.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, invited Mrs Sloman to take up her new role he praised her previous work in looking after the interests of churches across Norfolk.

He said: 'As a member of the Archbishops' Council, you have already made an outstanding contribution in this area by getting government to understand more clearly the great potential that our buildings have for wider community use as part of the continuing mission and ministry of the Church.

'Your extensive knowledge of how the Church of England works will be a considerable asset in this work.'

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