Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Archbishop of York Visits Us

Prayers for Peace during the FunKey Service
Friday 24th September
The Archbishop of York releases doves 
 as symbols of peace, St Mary's Richmond

St Mary's Richmond hums with activity

Bishop James adds his prayers
for all who work for peace
The Archbishop of York was out and about in the Archdeaconry on Friday, visiting Richmond, Bedale and Harrogate during the course of the day. St Mary's Richmond welcomed him to their FunKey service where, it being World Peace Day, the theme was Peace. The Archbishop helped a full church of children, parents, teachers and members of the wider community, including the Mayor, to think about the contribution we can all make to peace and fairness by being ready to pull together in directions that make for a just sharing of the resources we have. Some have much, others have very little - the question is what can I share with my neighbour? After prayers for peace led by the Revd John Chambers, Archbishop Sentamu released four doves, symbolizing our heartfelt desire for peace between people and nations. The FunKey team, led by Gillian Lunn, has achieved so much in a short space of months. After the service, helpers and church members met the Archbishop over coffee and cakes (from the Clow Beck Bakery in Darlington) to discuss what the service means for regular worshippers - new and old, young and not-so-young. The Methodist and Church of England Primary schools were well represented by their head teachers, staff and pupils and we are grateful to the schools for making it possible for the Archbishop to meet and worship with the FunKey children on a Friday morning. A day none of them will forget! 

The Archbishop then went on to a meeting with members of Hope Debt Advice at Bedale including Steve Laugher (Chair of Directors), Charlie Hart (Centre Manager) and Lynn Cornu (Volunteer). He heard about the way in which the churches of the area have pulled together to establish a debt counselling service. It covers Hambleton and Richmond districts and parts of Harrogate and offers free, professional advice with no strings attached to anyone suffering anxiety and sleepless nights because of unpaid bills and mounting debt. Getting into debt can happen to anyone if their circumstances change unexpectedly and the service is confidential, non judgemental and completely free. Archbishop Sentamu heard the story of two people who had literally had their lives changed by being able to work with skilled members of the organisation. They spoke of the feeling of lightness and hope in their home after the first visit of an advisor.  Hope Debt Advice Is a Christian charitable trust which is affiliated with Community Money Advice and licensed by the Office of Fair Trading to help people with financial problems. You can contact it today on 07582204338.

After lunch, Archbishop Sentamu went on to Harroagte where he met members of Kairos Church, a new network church which has established small groups of Christians who meet for worship, mutual support and Christian study across the Harrogate Area. Each group has a slightly different focus. We heard stories of work and worship with people who are getting themselves settled after a period of homelessness, people who are self-harming, elderly people in nursing homes and children and young families. There is also an intern scheme for people who would like to give a year working with Kairos in some way and a group who go out on the streets to meet people and talk about their faith or just befriend. The Kairos communities are very all-age from 0-90! You can find out more about Kairos on


With thanks to the Archbishop of York's
Communication Officer for the photo

Archbishop Sentamu has a wonderful gift for listening, encouraging and responding to people in ways that naturally make them ask, 'What is God saying in this situation?' Whether you are long in the tooth as a Christian believer or someone who has never thought much about Christianity, he has that knack of challenging you to look at the basics of how and why you are doing what you do and to ask what it might be that God is drawing out of you and your particular situation.

We laughed a lot too. At Lunch time he sat down to a slap-up lunch at Bedale Rectory with the Area Deans and Lay Chairs of the archdeaconry and we discussed the proposals for a new diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales. There are many  questions about how it will work but Archbishop Sentamu listened, probed and encouraged in ways that helped us to catch the vision for renewed mission across the communities and churches of this area. There will undoubtedly be many opportunities to rethink how we support mission and ministry more effectively and he gave us some examples. More of this in a few days time as there will be an anouncement about these plans for a new diocese this week, from the Dioceses Commission, to be followed by their full report in about three weeks' time.

A very big thank you to everyone who took part in the day and especially to Archbsihop Sentamu for his encouragement to us and his prayer for us and with us.

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