Senior church leaders and Christians from a wide variety of churches across West Yorkshire have been processing through the streets of Leeds in an Ash Wednesday walk of witness. The walk was organised by the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC), and aimed to celebrate diversity and demonstrate against 'narrow political attitudes' in the run-up to the General Election.
The ‘procession to celebrate diversity’ included church leaders of several different Christian denominations. (Pictured left, leaders on the walk included Bishop Tony Robinson, the Bishop for Wakefield, Bishop Walter Jagulski of the Lutheran Church, Revd Liz Smith of Chair of the Methodist District, Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod of the United Reformed Church and Msgr Michael McQuinn, Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Leeds)
After united prayers at St John, New Briggate, the procession wound its way towards the entrance to the Trinity Centre, where, accompanied by Leeds Minster Choir, a huge banner of the nations was unfurled.
The Act of Witness continued as choristers from Leeds Minster led by Master of Music, Simon Lindley, led hymns.
The Revd. Kevin Watson, and Chair of West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council, said,
"In the approach to the General Election, we must not seek to scapegoat people of different cultures. In unity, as Christians, we rejoice in the rich diversity of God's people in our churches, city and region. We have invited people from all churches to join in this unique procession of unity, to celebrate our diversity."
West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC) represents the main historic Churches of the region. The WYEC senior church leaders have a tradition of coming together in unity each year on Ash Wednesday, a day many churches keep as the first day of Lent (in 2015, on 18 February). In previous years, church leaders have highlighted the plight of people seeking sanctuary in the UK, people in debt, victims of political extremism, and hungry people using food-banks.
Secretary of WYEC, Revd Dr Clive Barrett., said, “This year, as the General Election approaches, we are concerned at narrowing attitudes in society and a negative distrust of anyone thought to be foreign or different.
“Today, WYEC church leaders encourage all Christians to stand against this narrowness, to be a positive sign of hope, to rejoice that each of us - everyone - is made in God’s image (Genesis 1.27). We celebrate the richness in our churches, our city and our region that comes from people of many cultures and nationalities. We are united in our faith in Christ (John 17.20-23), and we are also diverse in our backgrounds and cultures; and we are all the better for it.”
Click on the Choir Picture to watch a short video of the event