2016 Round Up

What a year 2016 has been indeed!

It has been eventful to say the least, perhaps getting off to a bit of a rocky start with the disheartening wave of celebrity deaths and the floods that swept so much of York in soggy muck. At times it may have felt as if the world was tying itself up in knots but let us not forget the great hope of the light of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the one we look to at all times for hope and for happiness and especially in this time of Advent, as we expectantly await the celebrations of his birth, we can reflect on his steadfast ways in this ever changing world, and rest in the knowledge that whatever the year brings, whatever it throws at us, the Victory has already been won, peace is ours.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:5

Over this year, starting in May Archbishop Sentamu completed a 6-month Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing across the Diocese of York. Throughout the Pilgrimage, Archbishop Sentamu prayed for people he met and took every opportunity to talk to everyone about the love of God. He kept a watch for the places where God’s Kingdom is breaking in, and sought to bless them. During this Pilgrimage, the Archbishop prayed with 25,100 people using prayer beads, and said the Lord’s Prayer as well as singing a Taizé chant in over 480 churches. He visited 148 schools, 22 hospitals and hospices. To watch videos of shared testimonies from the Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, please visit: http://pilgrimage.archbishopofyork.org/introduction/

We’ve had many more things to celebrate this year across our diocese, and here is a small snapshot to refresh our memories.


Despite the disruption and destruction to family homes and businesses we saw communities coming together to support each other through the emotional and practical difficulties of being displaced and to clear up and start afresh.

Many of the shops and restaurants that had to close have now re-opend, which is great news. Every year we learn new lessons and develop better defences and see the true value of those things that cannot be washed away, the love and support of our friends and families.

The Storehouse, the youth, children's and families venue for St. Michael le Belfrey Church in the centre of York was badly hit by the floods. Luckily however with advanced warning most of the furniture was saved. The church community came together to clean up and rebuild the venue and now it's better than ever and a hive of activity for the whole local community, both inside and outside of the church.


Following the launch of #JustPray from the Church of England in November 2015, February brought us a moving series of short films from those who found Jesus in the midst of addiction and poverty centred around Psalm 22 in the lead up to Easter.

The Psalm 22 campaign featured the Saturday Gathering, a fresh expression of church in Halifiax.
Growing out of a Food Bank and Drop In Centre run by Christians Together in Calderdale, Saturday Gathering has become one of the fastest growing churches in Yorkshire. The volunteer ecumenical group started to offer prayers to those using the food bank, and they found people coming back wanting to know more about the God who was answering their prayers. But with significantly different backgrounds and upbringings, traditional church proved to be out of their reach, so the Saturday Gathering was born.

In this broken world, it’s impossible to escape tragedy and despair. But together we can walk though dark places to reach places of light and hope. The Saturday gathering is fantastic example of this and we must celebrate and support those who serve and seek to restore the most vulnerable in our communities. You can read or listen to interviews from those who featured in the Psalm 22 film and find out more about Saturday Gathering and #JustPray on their website, here.


Moving out of the winter and slowly into spring we came to International Woman’s Day. Seven female bishops in the Church of England nominated the women who have inspired them to mark the occasion on the 8th March.

The Rt. Revd. Alison White, the Bishop of Hull, is inspired by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy;

she can write very movingly and deeply about some of the most personal things in life. She can challenge us to deal with some of the big issues that are facing us, so she's written poems about MP's expenses, she's written about climate change, she's written about the war in Afghanistan. And somehow, she holds those two aspects together, the deeply personal and how that plays out in the public issues that face us all. And that's the kind of place that I think I am called to inhabit as a Bishop, to live with the profound things of our human life. Not to be afraid of the difficult things, but to be able to laugh at the really joyful things, and to treat tenderly the things that are important about the way we are human beings. How inspiring is that?"

See More of Bishop Alison's video here.

Later in the month we also saw outside the Minster, some wonderful outdoor baptisms. On the Sunday before Easter, which this year fell on the 26th March, The Bishop of Beverly the Rt Revd Glyn Webster baptised Christians from different denominations.

This Service of Baptism marked the tenth anniversary of Easter baptisms which are organised by One Voice York, a network of Christian churches and leaders of different denominations working together across the city.
10 people were baptised in front of crowds of passers-by.

Chair of One Voice York, Graham Hutchinson said,

“Although different churches have different styles and emphasise different parts of faith, the Christian church in York is known far and wide for how well they work together. We are all part of the one family of Jesus Christ. […] These Easter baptisms are always a highlight of my year, as Christians from different denominations come together to welcome new believers in the family of God”.

A special moment for all those who were involved and particularly to those who were baptised!

More baptisms, this time amongst the St James Edge Community from the Flaxley Road Estate on Easter Day.

The Edge Community has been investing in children and young people on the Estate for over nine years. Many of those confirmed and those involved in summer holiday clubs, JAFFA after school club and DNA youth club over this time. Captain Neil Walpole (one of two Church Army ministers working with the community) said,

“The morning was a real blessing. It is great that our young people are coming to a real understanding of God’s love as we meet together.”

Bishop John who performed the Baptism and Confirmations said,

“how wonderful to see young people from the Flaxley Road Estate publicly saying: ‘We’re friends and followers of Jesus Christ’ and joining people from across the world and throughout history who have done the same!”

In all five young people reaffirmed their baptismal promises and were confirmed. Two of them were baptised.


May set the scene for the spectacular Mystery plays in York Minster. The largest event that the cathedral has ever staged, the Nave was transformed into a thousand-seater auditorium.

The plays were captivating for both the eyes and the heart, telling the most famous bible stories in a breath taking and intensely moving way. After the main event was over, we were left with Under the Spotlight, an exhibition on the Mystery plays, what they mean for us today, as the stories continue to resonate deeply with our society and the challenges we all face; and how they come to be with the incredible set pieces, props and costumes from award winning designer Max Jones which were left for our inspection and contemplation.


June was a month of extreme highs and lows. What with all the fun and amusements of the Queen’s 90th birthday and the anxiety and uncertainty amidst the EU referendum, June was quite the rollercoaster.

The Archbishop of York invited ten people celebrating their 90th birthday this year, along with a guest, to join the celebrations at Bishopthorpe Palace marking the Queen's birthday. St. Mary's in Thirsk and St. John, Newland in Hull also threw parties for their communities.


In July, we moved house!

When God closes one door, somewhere he opens a window. Well in our case, it was a much bigger window! We’ve now settled into our new home and are making good use of the extra space for training and all sorts; we’ve even got a library! The move was smooth so thank you for all your prayers of support.

Last week the Archbishop came to officially bless the building, praying for every room and sprinkling holy water in all the nooks and crannys. We feel very blessed with our new working environment and continue to pray that it will facilitate and progress the good work of all the diocesan staff, both lay and ordained as they continue to serve our diocese.


Just as the warm summer sun began to fade, the valiant Matt Martinson, vicar of St John’s Church Bransholme embarked upon his End-to-End Challenge to raise funds for a church rebuilding project. An epic 1169 mile journey from John O’Groats to Lands End, Matt travelled unassisted in a specially adapted wheelchair complete with trailer to store his supplies.

What a fantastic achievement!


The week of the 3rd October, 400 children from Yearsley Grove Primary School completed random acts of kindness across the city.

Eve Morris, Headteacher said

"We were inspired by the children who took part in the Archbishop of York Young Leaders Award before the summer. The children, who were then in Year 5, decided to raise money for MacMillan. The children wrote songs and baked biscuits for the nurses at York hospital and then performed in the hospital atrium. I was so moved, there wasn't a dry eye in the house, so as a school we wanted to use the inspiration from the children to take this happiness city-wide. It's about the children being good role models to all of society, to show that kindness is infectious."

Across the week children in each year group took part in a variety of activities to spread kindness throughout the city. Year 5 and 6 children went to the Vanguarde shopping park and the city centre to sing and give away gifts and compliments to passing shoppers, whereas the KS1 children secretly filmed videos to thank the more 'unsung and unseen' heroes in their school, including all the non-teaching staff and teaching assistants. Years 3 and 4 did a flash mob on the playground for parents and guardians collecting them on Friday afternoon. Through all of these activities the children sent a wave of kindness across the city.

Kate Denney from the Archbishop of York Youth Trust said,

"Yearsley Grove Primary school are an inspiration - they have suddenly grasped the amazing impact that there can be from small acts of kindness to others. Sometimes we can go through life and forget how powerful it can be to say thank you or spontaneously brighten someone's day. The children are kind, thoughtful and conscientious and what a wonderful example they are for all of us to follow."


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

Out of the frustrations of the EU referendum, Together Middlesbrough sought to heal the feelings of fractured community by launching their own #LoveYourNeighbour campaign in partnership with Church Urban Fund. (The #LYN movement started in Birmingham) The #LYN movement is all about living in harmony and mutual respect with all of those around us, regardless of social status, ethnicity or faith. It offers a simple yet profound message that we are all called to “love our neighbour”. Since then we’ve seen loads of people get involved, even seen the #LYN paraded around the stadium at a Middlesbrough vs. Chelsea game.

It really was a busy month!

Holy Trinity Hull became a Minster, which is a fitting ‘promotion’ ahead of next year’s City of Culture celebration, and Revd. Matt Woodcock shot to fame with the release of his first book, Becoming Reverend.

November also brought about the 150th anniversary of the Reader Ministry, a celebration for Readers all over the country and across our diocese. The special serviced was a welcome to those new to the Reader ministry and a thank you to those who have already dedicated so much of their lives to bridging the gap between the Word and the world. There are no small parts in the Kingdom of Heaven and we are thankful for the work of all Readers.


The fun continues even as the year draws to a close.

This year the Church of England launched their biggest Christmas campaign yet, A Christmas Near You. Thousands and thousands of churches have been uploading their services to a huge online database, complete with all the necessary details to make church as accessible and inviting to as many people as possible. #JoyToTheWorld continues to spread the word all over the internet as famous and familiar faces alike featured in the series of videos celebrating individual moments of Christmas joy. Watch the videos here.

Church Urban fund run another successful year of the Advent Sleepout Challenge, with 92 events across the counry and it has been fantastic to see the likes of Holy Trinity Micklegate and St. Mary’s, Tadcaster getting involved.

So many of our churches and schools threw fantastic Christmas Tree Festivals and carol concerts, there was even a 20ft angel outside St. Mary’s, Thorngumbald! There has been so much to see and so and share the love and joy of Jesus this Christmas. Thank you to everyone who has jumped into the generous and thoughtful spirit. May your Christmases be peaceful and joyful.

So, despite its ups and downs, this year has been full of fantastic moments, and as we come to the end of this year we can look forward to the next and all the challenges and celebrations that it will no doubt bring.

Already, we have the Hull City of Culture to look forward to and the Archbishop of York is set to go back on the road as he plans to join all 21 deaneries in the Diocese of York throughout 2017 and 2018 for weekends of celebration, witness and blessing, telling others of the love of God. The first stop will be Northern Ryedale from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 January 2017. Northern Ryedale has been preparing for their weekend of witness and celebration, calling all of their events INVITE. All are encouraged to invite friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to local events happening throughout the mission weekend in schools, cafés, pubs, churches and community hubs.

More on this in the New Year….

What are your plans for 2017? Big or small, we want to hear about it all.