Wakefield Consistory Court: Collier Ch, November 1999
A major reordering was proposed which included the creation of a vestry and two community rooms, the latter to be run by the All Saints' Centre Committee for various educational and community purposes. The chancellor reviewed various authorities concerning the use of consecrated land and buildings for secular purposes including Re St John's Chelsea  1 WLR 706; Re St Mary the Virgin, Woodkirk  1 WLR 1867; and Re All Saints, Market Harborough (1991)2EccLJ 375 and extracted the following principles:
1. Consecration takes place with the signing by the bishop of the sentence of consecration, by which he separates and sets apart the building from all profane and common uses whatsoever, dedicates the same to the service of almighty God for the performance therein of divine offices, and consecrates the same for the celebration of such offices. The sentence further pronounces, decrees and declares the building to be so separated, dedicated and consecrated and that it ought to remain so for ever. In consequence of the sentence, the building, and with it the land on which it stands, becomes consecrated land, held to sacred uses, and subject to the jurisdiction of this court.
2. Consecration permits of ancillary uses-to make the building work and serve its consecrated purpose.
3. Consecration is part of the mission of the church-it sets the building and land apart not only for sacred uses, but also as a sign of the presence of the Christian community in that place. The principal sacred uses are the worship of God and the proclaiming by words and works the gospel of Christ. It follows from this that secondary uses that are consistent with that mission and pastoral outreach should be permitted so long as they do not compromise the primary uses of the building for worship, pastoralia and mission or of the land for Christian burial.
4. The matter of consecration can also be viewed through the concept of public interest. It is clearly in the public interest that consecration should be honoured and maintained; but there is from time to time a competing public interest that requires the land or building to be used for other purposes. The latter will be exceptional cases, but in those cases the balance of public interest may require the church to give up or give away its primary use.'
The chancellor was satisfied that what was proposed was wholly consistent with the mission of the church and, applying the Bishopsgate questions, resolved the matter in favour of the petitioners.
Note: It may be that Chapter 11 of the Report of the Archbishops' Commission on Rural Areas, Faith in the Countryside, which emphasises that church buildings be seen as places which can properly be used for purposes other than worship, is of more general application. See, for example, Re St Michael, Aveley (1997) 4 Ecc LJ 770.
(2000) 5 Ecc LJ 391-392