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Festival of Faith during Lent has been a hit for Halifax Minster

First published on: 8th April 2024

Halifax Minster is celebrating the success of its bold decision to rebrand Lent this year as a Festival of Faith open to all.

It was an outward looking initiative that was missional in focus and drew new people into the Minster who otherwise might not have visited the historic building. Our bishops presented Sunday Sermons, based on the diocesan vision of Living, Loving Learning and there was plenty of music, including Halifax Choral Society, the Yorkshire String Quartet, and brass from Hammonds Band, and of course, the Minster Choir.

The Rt Revd Smitha Prasadam, Bishop of Huddersfield, led a series of Public Theology sessions called In Conversation. These brought together a wide spectrum of unexpected people to talk about their life, their work and their faith. The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield, stood in for the first night with Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, who spoke movingly of growing up as a Muslim woman in the UK, referencing the war in Gaza and the effect on the Muslim community of the Government’s recent redefinition of extremism.

The Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP spoke about faith and society and how the faith communities responded to the Pandemic and more recently to the cost of living crisis. Michael Gartland led a mindfulness session as part of a discussion around wellbeing and mental health.

The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, John Robins, (pictured above) spoke of his theology degree, and about forgiveness and compassion within West Yorkshire Police Force and what it means to serve your community through policing.

Finally, Major General Zac Stenning, Commandant of the Royal Academy at Sandhurst and Colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment, spoke openly about faith, ethics, leadership, and human rights within the UK Armed Forces. He is pictured with Bishop Smitha and the Revd Canon Hilary Barber of the Minster.

Bishop Smitha led Holy Week in the Minster preaching for the Triduum, and on Holy Saturday baptising and confirming candidates from across the Halifax and Calder Valley Deanery. On Easter Day the Minster welcomed the new High Sherriff of West Yorkshire to her first engagement, with Bishop Smitha as her Chaplain for the year, alongside the Mayor and Mayoress of Calderdale, and the Lieutenancy of West Yorkshire.

The Minster is now preparing to host a group of Ordinands in May for a two week mission before its Summer Festival in June.         

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