The inaugural meeting of what was to become Cathedrals Plus, formerly The Pilgrims’ Association, was held in London in 1981. A group of representatives, mainly from Church of England Cathedrals were concerned that visitor numbers were growing to such an extent that in some cases the traditional ‘ministry of Welcome’ was under threat. It was agreed to create a forum in which those responsible for the care and welcome of pilgrims, tourists and visitors could meet and exchange ideas and experiences and pass on solutions to problems that had been encountered. It was, in fact, the first collaborative initiative amongst Cathedrals representing a specific aspect of their work, and has since been followed by others covering such interests as finance, libraries and music.
The Association Today
Over the years since then membership of the Association has expanded. It has now been joined by almost all the Church of England cathedrals as well as Anglican Cathedrals in Wales, Scotland and Ireland and three of the Metropolitan Roman Catholic cathedrals. In addition to Cathedrals, several Abbeys, shrines and major churches, and also organisations relating to church heritage and tourism, are members. It can be seen, therefore, to be both ecumenical and international.