Welcoming new members into our church family is the theme for our two films this week in our year long campaign to tell the story of our rich and varied life here in the Diocese of Leeds.
Here, we travelled up to Bedale and had the privilege to be invited to join Archie and his family and friends as he was baptised by the Revd Ian Robinson, Rector of Bedale with Burrill, Thornton Watlass and Leeming.
Said Ian: “Conducting baptisms is a highlight in the church calendar, enabling us to welcome new members into the church family, it offers a wonderful opportunity to engage with families in a deep and meaningful manner.
“Baptism is the starting point of a journey of discovery together, parents and godparents, children and the church family.
“And it’s always a joy to welcome the parents and children back to further worship in the church and to be able to conduct services that are designed to help families fulfil their baptism promises.
“And a favourite part of conducting the baptism is to be able to share the understanding of the symbolism of each element of the service and to help all those present to begin to engage with the meaning of the service,” he added.
Last year here in the Diocese of Leeds, we welcomed over 5,000 new people into our church communities through baptism. That figure includes 3,008 baptisms of infants, 1,105 baptisms of those aged one to four; 336 over fives and 553 over 13s. We also celebrated 317 thanksgiving services!
For our second film this week, we turn the spotlight on the parish of Seacroft in East Leeds.
They celebrate over 100 baptisms a year – but it is to their Little Angels group; which welcomes those under fives into the church family – that we took our cameras.
So called because “they uplift the life of the church here” this toddler group meets every Wednesday in St James’s church.
Here they create a Christian environment for these youngsters as they grow up, and invest time in them, because, as Team Vicar, the Revd Dominic Mughal, says: “They are our present and future church.”
St James’s is one of three places of worship in the parish - St James’s, St Paul’s and St Richard’s - which together serve a community of 35,000 people across Seacroft, Swarcliffe and Whinmoor.
They serve the parish in a variety of different ways – from running summer youth camps to the hot meal and emergency food parcels they give out every Saturday. They work closely with other community groups and organisations including The Olive Branch Community Café and East Leeds Foodbank, community galas and fun days, Christmas toy distribution, community children’s and youth work, community leadership and development; Neighbourhood Planning and local schools and Leeds City Council.
The Team Rector, the Revd Mike Benwell said: “It’s about celebrating together, about caring for each other, about being generous, welcoming and hospitable.
“We want to show God loves this place and its people,’ he added.