As we begin to get ready to share the magical, musical, miracle of the season upon us, I wanted to remind you of This Christmas - a short, joyful film for you to use, celebrating all that we do in our parishes across our diocese at Christmas. Please share it and spread some of the magic of Christmas here in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds.
Revd Mark Harlow has now moved to St Paul’s Ireland Wood, from his role as curate at St George’s, Leeds - recently designated as the diocese’s first Resource Church. In this video Mark explains his excitement for this new post. The church plant at St Paul's, Ireland Wood, is part of an exciting initiative for church growth and part major funding bid for the Diocese to be considered by the Church Commissioners. The new Diocesan Strategy aims to create a total of five Resource Churches across the Leeds Episcopal area, including St George’s. Resource Churches are backed by the Church Commissioners as part of the nationwide Renewal & Reform programme as they “intentionally resource mission across a city, by planting and revitalising churches, developing leaders and providing other resources for mission”. Committed teamwork is key to success and 45 members of St George’s go with Mark and his wife Kathryn (who will be Associate Priest) to swell the St Paul’s congregation, where Sunday attendance is currently some 25 worshippers. Read more here.
This latest film in our campaign to tell our story here in the Diocese of Leeds, takes us behind the scenes at St Paul’s, Birkenshaw as they prepare for the latest concert in their month long Music Festival.It was the first of its kind for St Paul's, and the vicar, the Revd Danny Walker, wanted to create something to appeal to all tastes and bring people in to church to hear some fantastic music. And that’s exactly what he did. His rich and varied programme included a Reggae Mass, an evening of Opera North, jazz, a film night; a Good Old Days event performed by the congregation; a Swing Band; Choral Evensong from the Men and Boys choir of Bradford Cathedral, and a Songs of Praise. It proved to be a huge success with well over 2,000 people attending, most of the events sold out, and the church even made a healthy profit. Said Danny: “It just built and built as the month went on. It brought out some real talent and gave people the chance to experience something special right here in Birkenshaw." And one year on - its legacy continues with numbers well up on most events. Plans are already in the pipeline for a similar event next year themed around the end of the anniversary of the First World War with local Big Band Artist, Paul Stone already signed up! “But more than that, “ said Danny. “ It has created a buzz in the community and buoyed up the congregation. They are much more confident now. "And it’s put the church at the heart of the community. That’s worth much more to me than what we raised,’ he added.
Representatives from churches across the diocese have been meeting together to examine ways to help churches become more welcoming to families with additional needs. A ground-breaking gathering of disability representatives at Church House, the Leeds office of the Diocese of Leeds heard some of the difficulties facing families who have children with disabilities and additional needs and how sometimes churches are ill-equipped to offer support. As part of the morning a film was shown at the meeting, made at Christ Church, Armley where the congregation has developed facilities to help those with additional needs. Several members of the congregation talked about the need to welcome young people with additional needs as full members of the church. Watch a two minute extract from the film here..
The Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley has been announced by 10 Downing Street as the next Suffragan (Area) Bishop of Ripon, in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds. Bishop Helen-Ann, who is 44, is at present Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand, an office she has held since 2014. At the time she was the first woman priest ordained in the Church of England to become a bishop. She succeeds Bishop James Bell who retired earlier this year.
For this week’s film, we travelled to Nidderdale in the Ripon Episcopal Area to find out about ministry in some of our more rural areas as part of our year long campaign to tell the story of all that we are and all that we do here in the Diocese of Leeds. In the unspoilt rural cobbled village of Middlesmoor, eight miles out of Pateley Bridge, it was nothing short of a miracle when they were given the funds to erect an internet transmitter on top of their local church of St Chad’s as part of a wider project of connectivity across the Nidderdale Valley. And for farmer and church warden, Stuart Ramsden, it has truly changed his life allowing him to check the weather, prices, sales and do his banking online. He now does email - which he was never able to do before. And he is not the only one who benefits from broadband connectivity. But rural ministry is more than looking at how best to serve your community, it’s the personal touch for some of those living in the more isolated villages as the vicar of Upper Nidderdale, Darryl Hall, now Area Dean of Ripon Deanery, tells us.
For this week’s film, we spent a day at St Catherine’s Church Centre in Wakefield as part of our year long campaign to celebrate all that we are and all that we do here in the Diocese of Leeds. It has been running an emergency food store for those in the city and beyond for over five years – and has regular arrangements with a variety of local supermarkets and other businesses and organisations. Since the start of this year up to October 20, it had given out 1,852 food parcels. And with winter just around the corner, St Catherine’s Church and Centre is asking for donations to boost its emergency food store.(see main story on news for shopping list) But St Catherine’s is much more than just a food bank. It has its own café which runs five days a week; it offers holiday clubs to stop the hunger gap some families might experience during the schools holidays; a day centre offering arts, crafts and a meeting place for the elderly; a community choir which is open to anyone for free choir and music singing every Thursday; a gardening club; creative writing sessions and a Recovery Café every Thursday for anyone aged over 18 with mental health issues where they meet and share a meal together. And every Christmas it opens its doors for a Christmas dinner for those on their own and more vulnerable families which includes a visit from Father Christmas and presents for all the children.
For this week’s film, we were invited to the launch of Saturday Gathering West as part of our year long campaign to celebrate all that we are and all that we do here in the Diocese of Leeds. After four years of the Saturday Gathering, that fresh expression of church that grew out of a food bank in Halifax, the organisers, Christians Together In Calderdale, realised it had grown too big so a second site, Saturday Gathering West, was set up across the other side of town, at St Hilda’s church. That was 12 months ago –they have had their first baptism; a young man named Daniel who has now made the Saturday Gathering West his church – and are confident that, while there have been highs and lows as with any new church plant, St Hilda’s is in the right place to grow and continue to reach out to the community in the area. Chris Butler, a trustee explains: “ Since we opened we have looked a different formats to capture people’s imaginations and look at new ways to engage. For the past couple of months we have found that using skits along with a brief explanation works really well and we now are nick named “The Skit Church.” Saturday Gathering West meets every Saturday at 7pm in St Hildas, Gibraltar Road, HX14HE. Happy Birthday Saturday Gathering West -Saturday 21 October, 7pm. An evening of fellowship and food. ALL WELCOME
This week we turn the spotlight on a new family heritage project in Wakefield Cathedral as part of our year long campaign to celebrate all that we are and all that we do here in the Diocese of Leeds. The Discovery Arcade is an interactive space that tells the story of Wakefield Cathedral’s rich and varied heritage through giant jigsaws, interactive games and window rubbings. The Dean of Wakefield, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener said: “We have always said Wakefield Cathedral is here for the whole community and by opening up the building to new and younger generations, this is a positive step towards making that a reality. “We have worked hard to reimagine the space we have, so children can engage with the building and learn more about its rich history and heritage,” he said.
This week we find out what happens when a town centre church takes a pop up shop in a nearby arcade for a week as part of our year long film campaign to celebrate all that we are and all that we do here in the Diocese of Leeds. This will be the third year that Huddersfield St Peter’s will take over an empty stall in the Packhorse Centre in town selling bric a brac to raise funds – but more importantly - ensuring they have a visible and engaging presence in the town. Last year they raised over £2,000 from the stall in the week which was split between church funds and the local food bank and homeless charity. This year they open shop on Monday September 25 until Friday September 29 – and are currently welcoming any donations! Churchwarden at Huddersfield Parish Church, Mike Benbridge said running the pop up shop “captured everyone’s imagination.” And the vicar, the Revd Canon Simon Moor said it had enabled them to reach out and connect with those they might not have done otherwise.