The service was attended by special guests including His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Huw Edwards, Bill Bryson and Neil MacGregor.
About the Incorporated Church Building Society
The Incorporated Church Building Society was set up to help build and enlarge Anglican churches in England and Wales. Between 1818 and 1982 it gave 14,356 grants to churches, helping to pay for the building and enlargement of many thousands of churches.
It was also at the forefront of the battle for ‘free’ pews and its funding contributed to adding over two million pew spaces, most of which were free seats for all, in contrast to the then customary provision of private pews and the reliance on pew rents.
In 2013, the ICBS was absorbed into the National Churches Trust, a charity which supports church and chapel buildings of all denominations throughout the UK.
Service at St Paul’s Cathedral
The service was led by The Reverend Canon Tricia Hillas, Canon Pastor and Canon in Residence at St Paul’s Cathedral. The Sermon was given by The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury.
The Blessing was given by Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and Joint President of the National Churches Trust. He said:
“I am delighted to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS). In the years after the battle of Waterloo the ICBS funded the building and enlargement of many hundreds of churches in the new industrial centres of England and Wales and across the Counties. It also paid for the provision of hundreds of thousands of seats in ‘free pews’, making Anglican worship accessible to all in a dramatic new way. “
“The ICBS was created thanks to the efforts of philanthropists such as Joshua Watson. He was also the prime mover in the creation of the National Society, which set up the Church of England’s network of schools. Raising its money privately, between 1818 and 1982, the ICBS gave over 14,000 grants to churches, worth the equivalent of £160 million in today’s money, an extraordinary achievement. “
“Today, the work of the ICBS is carried forward by the National Churches Trust, which supports church buildings of all denominations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are blessed to have some of the most historic and beautiful religious buildings to be found anywhere in the world. At the centre of local communities, churches, chapels and meeting houses provide a home for countless activities such as playgroups, drop-in-centres and musical events, as well as serving their core purpose as places of worship. I hope that the work of the ICBS will inspire all those who care for church buildings to continue their essential work of keeping them open and in good repair, to the glory of God and for the benefit of our society now and in the future.”
The service was sung by the St Paul’s Cathedral Consort, directed by Simon Johnson, Organist and Assistant Director of Music.
Special guests and church leaders attending:
The service was attended by a number of church leaders. They included: Reverend John Davies, Archbishop of Wales; Bishop Ken Good, Diocese of Derry and Raphoe; Most Revd George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff and Vice President of the National Churches Trust; Major David Evans, representing the Salvation Army; His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan representing the Armenian church; His Grace Bishop Anba Angaelos representing the Coptic Orthodox Church; Dr Ingrid Greenhow representing The Religious Society of Friends; and Alan Yates representing the United Reformed Church.
Other special guests included: Bill Bryson OBE, Vice President of the National Churches Trust; Reverend Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch; Neil MacGregor; Charles Wellesley, Duke of Wellington; Carol Vorderman MBE; and Huw Edwards, Vice President of the National Churches Trust.