On Tuesday (10 October) the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell hopped on board to bless a bus ministry in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire as he outlined plans to celebrate stories of faith in the north, and help renew the missionary purpose of the Church in the North over the coming years.
The Archbishop held a launch event for Faith in the North at Dewsbury Minster on 10 October which is St Paulinus Day in the Church’s calendar, remembering the life of the saint who established the Church of Saint Peter in York in the year 627 and who became the first bishop of York. Archbishop Stephen, now the 98th Archbishop of York, led a time of prayer in the Chapel at Dewsbury Minster dedicated to St Paulinus. He was joined by many church leaders from across the North.
Archbishop Stephen said: “The purpose of marking the mission of Paulinus is not to look back, but to look forwards, and to learn from some of the features of mission in Anglo Saxon times and the spirituality which shaped it. Exploring our spiritual roots in this way offers a wonderful opportunity to share the Christian faith in churches, schools and in all the communities we serve. Under a banner of ‘Faith in the North’ and working with others in all our dioceses in the Church of England, I am encouraging similar patterns of mission, celebrating our faith stories from the great Northern Saints of the past and from today’s church. In doing this, I hope we can equip the Church for its service and mission today, find ways of reaching out to others, and plant new Christian communities.”
Earlier in the, Archbishop Stephen joined in Morning Prayer at Wakefield Cathedral, and later walked from Christ Church South Ossett to Dewsbury Minster, calling in at Orchard Park Primary Academy to lead a school assembly and blessing the outreach ministry of Destination 211 Bus along the way. This is part of Archbishop Stephen’s teaching and preaching ministry, praying along the routes he walks with others.
Rev Neil Walpole, Associate Priest Dewsbury Team Parish said: “Destination 211 bus ministry reaches out to communities that struggle from high deprivation with the love of Jesus. It provides a warm space and a listening ear for the community in winter as well as offering emergency food. It is an after school drop in where real discipleship takes place with craft and a Bible study for parents and children, and we have our worship ‘Thrive on the bus’, where all can learn and grow in faith. This is an important and practical outreach especially to Chickenley which no longer has a church building nearby. Time and time again we see children sprint down the hill with parents following to join us for drinks, cakes, conversations and to hear the good news of Jesus.”
About Faith in the North
Further detailed information can be found here: www.faithinthenorth.org
The Faith in the North project will be a large focus of the Archbishop’s over the next five years. The project is linked with the 1400th anniversary in 2027 of the baptism in York of Edwin (the first Christian King of Northumbria) by the missionary bishop Paulinus.
The purpose of marking the ground-breaking mission of Paulinus is not just to look back, but to look forwards. And to be inspired by the riches of Anglo-Saxon spirituality and the boldness of those who took up the challenge of spreading faith in Christ across the North.
It is a northern response to the Church of England’s national vision and strategy with a particular emphasis in growing younger and more diverse, developing missionary disciples, and planting new Church communities.
Dioceses and cathedrals from across the Northern Province are encouraged to get involved and to see where this may fit within their own mission to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in parishes across the north. In the coming months resources will be available for schools and parishes to further explore what can be learned from Anglo Saxon Christianity.
Prayer for Faith in the North:
Archbishop Stephen speaking in Dewsbury Minster
The Revd Neil Walpole, The Rt Revd Smitha Prasadam, Bishop of Huddersfield and Archbishop Stephen Cottrell