Rev. Bannister-Parker issued a challenge to tourists. She called on them to break the mentality that “if you don’t take a photo it did not happen.”

A senior priest at The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford criticized tourists who go inside the church for self-portrait photographs or selfies, The Telegraph reports.

In a newsletter, Rev. Charlotte Bannister-Parker said the church has seen quite a large number of selfie-obsessed tourists. Just to take a selfie, some tourists have invaded the personal space of worshippers inside the most visited parish church in England. The fixation on taking photos disrupts the peace and serenity of the church.

Rev. Bannister-Parker issued a challenge to tourists. She called on them to break the mentality that “if you don’t take a photo it did not happen.”

The cathedral is visited by more than 400,000 people every year. The reverend thinks that some tourists are not respectful of the sacred space.

“Not only is the whole experience of visiting St. Mary’s so often seen through a camera lens, but also some visitors seem completely unaware of the difference between this space as ‘the House of God’ and, say, that of the Sheldonian,” she said.

Church officials are now discussing ways on how to prevent tourists from unintentionally invading a worshipper’s privacy in church. Tourists are most welcome to visit the historic church, but guidelines must be imposed so both tourist and worshipper enjoy their visit.

Rev. Dr William Lamb, vicar of the church, said playing music quietly in the background could inhibit tourists from distracting others inside St. Mary’s. Some areas could be reserved for private prayer and another area could be available for selfie-taking tourists. He also suggested inviting guests to join in the prayers.

“We want to encourage visitors to come to St. Mary’s and to ensure that they have the best possible experience. This ministry of hospitality is an important part of our mission as a church,” he said.

The cleric believes that subtle changes in dealing with tourists will be beneficial to the church, worshippers, and tourists.

Sources:
Telegraphcouk. (2017). The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/27/priest-condemns-selfie-taking-tourists-disturbing-worshippers/

Oxfordtimescouk. (2017). The Oxford Times. http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/15434582.Selfie_taking_tourists_are_ruining___39_sacred_space__39__in_Oxford_church/

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