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In 2012, following a symposium on the future of churches held in Arras at the end of the previous year, the Commission d'Art Sacré du Pas-de-Calais, and the Department's heritage curator, are reflecting on how to enhance religious heritage.
A first itinerary creation project, "Au fil des églises", proposing a discovery of the churches had been launched a few months earlier. This project is proving to be a failure, the lack of a real network, which creates a link between all of them, is the main reason.
Michel Tillie and Marie Lehy then sought examples and discovered the Belgian network "Open and welcoming churches". After a meeting with the leaders of this network: Marc Huynen, president and his collaborator Martine Van den Bergen, they decided to join the Open Churches Foundation and founded in 2014 the association "Eglises Ouvertes Nord de France" with the objective of proposing the network very widely, while keeping the necessary autonomy for a structure in accordance with French legislation.
In 2018, the Association églises ouvertes Nord de France broadened its influence by welcoming two new regions: Burgundy with two churches in 2017 and Normandy, which was made aware thanks to a symposium held in Alençon in November 2018, during which we presented the network.
Today the international network extends over three countries: Belgium, Luxembourg and France. In France, the network is a large crescent stretching from Normandy to Burgundy, following the coastline and the Belgian and German borders.
As of January 2019, the network includes more than 400 churches, including 54 churches in the Eglises Ouvertes Nord de France network, 2 in Burgundy and 2 in Normandy, managed by EONDF.