Anyone interested in getting an inside look at local churches can take advantage of the seventh annual Summer Church Tour starting Tuesday.
The program, sponsored by Metro-Toledo Churches United, offers free guided tours of a different local church each Tuesday for the next eight weeks.
Each tour starts at noon and lasts about an hour.
“I'm so thrilled that people want to hear about other religions and see other churches,” said Polly White, outgoing program director for MTCU. “There are some beautiful churches here in Toledo and a lot of people don't know about them.”
The individual churches are responsible for arranging their own guides.
“This makes it fun,” Mrs. White said. “Sometimes the pastor does it, sometimes it's a layman who has been there for years. Some churches have two or three tour guides.”
A few churches offer snacks and beverages to their visitors and some even provide lunch, she said. It's all up to the church members and staffs.
Attendance for the tours averages 75 to 100, Mrs. White said, but last year the program drew several hundred participants when it expanded to an interfaith event by including the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, the Hindu Temple in Sylvania, and the Temple B'nai Israel.
Metro-Toledo Churches United is a council of 137 churches, founded in 1886, that offers ecumenical programs and educates the public about different religions.
Mrs. White retired this week after 14 years as MTCU's program director. The council's director, Nancy Atkins, also is retiring this week after 15 years at the helm. Her successor, the Rev. A. Otto Baumann II, pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, takes over on Monday.