Future for Religious Heritage (FRH)

Third International Conference, Halle (Saale) 29.10 - 1.11.2014
"Sustaining Europe's Rural Religious Heritage"

Concluding Statement

More than one hundred delegates from over twenty different countries met to support religious heritage conservation in rural areas at the third biennial conference organised by Future for Religious Heritage (FRH) in Halle (Saale), Germany in October 2014, titled "Sustaining Europe's Rural Religious Heritage". They formulated the following statement to call for more attention to the topic in Europe.

1. We are proud of our religious heritage because:

there is a historic religious building in almost every village and town, often a beautiful landmark which is loved by local people. The local historic church, mosque, synagogue or temple contains the history of local people, their ancestors and the society in which we live, it tells the story of the community and provides a place for us to come together.

2. European rural religious heritage is at risk

Shrinking congregations, secularization of our societies, changing patterns of worship, other means of communication and public participation, reducing population in rural areas and financial constraints are the main factors. Also theft and vandalism remain a threat and sometimes increase when a building is underused or left empty. In some countries economic and social change are also leading to insensitive development which leads to loss of historic religious buildings.

The loss of movable heritage - the art and artefacts inside churches - is also a significant risk when changes occur or buildings are lost.

3. Protecting religious heritage brings great opportunities

It provides very special places at the heart of communities where people can come together and build a community. FRH's activities, conferences and sharing of experiences have highlighted numerous ways in which protecting religious heritage brings opportunity, including:

4. Now is the time to act

The European poll* shows that 75% of Europeans want us to act now. Our generation has the unique opportunity to save these great historic buildings and their stories for future generations.

*) carried out by Sociovision and Toluna, 2014

For further information see:www.frh-europe.org