Sheep, shepherds and growing churches

A sheepdog and a lamb took a central park in a  church service held in a barn near Settle in North Yorkshire at the weekend which  drew in more than 120 people. Sheepdog and lamb

The sheepdog and the lamb were there as a symbols of sheep farming and – along with a fleece and a crook – and were blessed by the Bishop of Ripon, Rt Revd James Bell, who also spoke in his Address about the hardships being experienced by shepherds and sheep farmers. 

The ecumenical lambing service, held at Winningside Farm Keasden, near Settle, attracted an ecumenical congregation from the region and was led by local vicar, Revd Canon Ian Greenhalgh, local farmer John Dowson from Newby and Roman Catholic Priest,  Father Francis Smith from Settle. 

Earlier in the day around 50 delegates took part in an ecumenical meeting on the subject of church growth in rural areas. Central to the theme was a striking ‘installation’ created by Karin Shaw  (pictured left), on the theme of the valley of dry bones from the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel.

Delegates heard good news stories of church growth which included the setting up of a chaplaincy at auction marts, church services held in pubs and caravan parks, a Christian fellowship that has grown from 5 to over 30, and an after-school tuck shop which grew into a ‘Messy Church’.

The meeting was organised jointly by the Diocesan Rural Officer and Adviser Andy Ryland and David Houlton who worked in partnership with Maggie Patchett the West Yorkshire Methodist District Rural Outreach Project Officer.

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