Fresh Expressions of church in Halifax will feature on Songs of Praise next weekend

A fresh expressions of church in Halifax which has brought scores of new disciples to faith is to feature on Songs of Praise this weekend.

Called the Saturday Gathering, these new disciples have come to faith through the Halifax Food and Support Drop which is run by Christians Together in Calderdale and has been providing food and toiletries parcels and prayer support to the most needy and vulnerable for the last five years.

Bishop Tony Robinson, the area bishop of Wakefield and interim area bishop of Huddersfield, baptized 19 new disciples earlier this year and said the service was one of the most moving he had had the privilege to conduct throughout his eleven years as bishop. “You could feel the Holy Spirit at work among the people who came forward to commit their lives to Jesus,” he said.

Bishop Tony baptises new disciples at the Saturday Gathering The Saturday Gathering is one example of a fresh expression of church in the diocese as Linda Maslen, a lay leader there who worships at All Saints, Halifax, explains: “More and more of those who used the Drop In were asking for prayer and when they saw their prayers answered, they began to come into a relationship with God and wanted somewhere to worship,” said Linda.

But Linda said fitting in to existing congregations in existing churches was not always easy for these newcomers and it made her realise that they had to do something different. “So Saturday Gathering was born 15 months ago,” explained Linda who is in the second year of (part-time) ordination training with the Yorkshire Ministry Course at Mirfield.

“It takes place in the same venue as the Drop-in at Ebenezer from 7pm-9pm on Saturday evenings when everyone has a meal together, share stories from the Bible or use DVDs to prompt discussion, and pray and sing.

“God has done so much in our time together; we’ve seen chaotic lives changed, addictions broken and relationships healed. We started with 12 people and now have about 60. Some people move on into more traditional fellowships and we encourage that, but others very much see Saturday Gathering as their “church”,” she added.

Songs of Praise on Sunday 21st September 4.25pm BBC 1 celebrates initiatives taken by churches to invite new people in.

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