Serving the community is the theme for this week’s films in our year long campaign to tell the rich and varied story of life here in the Diocese of Leeds.
This week we show you two churches in very different contexts; both of whom are serving their communities where they are and give us a glimpse into the wide range of church and community life lived out here in the diocese.
In Leeds, All Hallows in Hyde Park is situated in a densely populated inner city suburb. If asked, the vicar, the Revd Heston Groenewald would say they share space with three big Mosques, a big Hindu temple, are neighbours to the two Universities of Leeds and Leeds Beckett, and they have a huge amount of social housing.
Connecting the church with the parish is the overarching ethos of All Hallows; and love and prayer is at the heart of all they do.
They run a "Real Junk Food' Pay as you Feel cafe, serving food intercepted from landfill. The cafe is open on Monday and Thursday lunchtimes; on 'Syrian Kitchen' Thursdays, lunch is cooked by Syrian refugees. Once a month, the Syrian Kitchen serves a Friday evening bistro-type menu; they are also celebrating weekly iftars in church during Ramadan.
The church signposts people to English classes and there’s a representative from the local Job Centre who comes every Thursday to offer people practical advice and help.
The church is part of the Headingley team parish and the churches are constantly striving to strengthen their links including offering peer support and peer advice and this weekend, for example, Heston will preside and preach at St Michael’s, in Headingley.
Said Heston: “This church makes space for people to encounter each other across divides; whether that is students and non-students; Muslims and non-Muslims; refugees and non refugees, or our LGBT friends.
“The church and our café allows people to engage with each other and be surprised by each other’s humanity,’ he added.
Our second film takes us down the M62 from Leeds to Normanton, in the Wakefield Episcopal Area, and to All Saints Church, a vibrant church serving former mining communities where prayer is at the heart of all they do.
In the last few years they have prayed long and hard about the community and realised that young people and older people were both social groups they needed to meet.
They signed up to the Fairtrade Scheme which delivers them a pallet of food every week which they use to make fresh, tasty meals for the weekly Meet and Eats group – thanks to volunteers like Debs who you see in this film. They also run a food bank and a clothing bank.
They have also grown a youth club two nights a week in Normanton and one night a week in neighbouring, Kirkthorpe and The Well is a unique project to help divert young people into making better choices.
Last week they got involved in Christian Aid Week and ran the Christian Aid brekkie club at church on Wednesday and took a stall on the local market serving tea, coffee and buns.
All Saints is currently getting ready for the Thy Kingdom Come when it will open its doors most days for two hours for prayer and there will be six prayer stations in church set up on Ascension Day by Year 2 students from the local infant school.
Curate, Phil Maries said: “We learned early on that prayer is the most important thing we can do, both on our own and together. Prayer changes you , it changes others and it connects you to a loving God without whom all our lives would be poorer."
On June 2nd and 3rd, a group from All Saints will be at The Big Church Day Out event which is one of the national beacon events for Thy Kingdom Come before travelling back to the Diocese for the beacon event in Wakefield Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday.