The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, was out and about to meet the people of Mowbray Deanery – Thirsk, Northallerton and surrounding communities – during a Mission Weekend from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th April.

The weekend was one of a series of weekend missions throughout the Diocese of York, in which the Archbishop joins with local church members to share faith with a wide cross-section of people and groups.

Friday 13th April

Dr Sentamu visited Orchid House, Sowerby, an extra care housing scheme of 64 flats and 26 bungalows for people who require support to live independently. He joined a residents’ coffee morning, met extra care manager Kate Raustrick and gave a short talk on ‘Faith in Later Life’ with questions afterwards. Orchid House opened in 2016, and church members who reside there have worked to build up a community and have organised and run group study courses during Advent and Lent.

During the afternoon, Archbishop Sentamu visited the historic village of Osmotherley, a hub of local rural life including farming, leisure and tourism with a rich history of Christian life including the Parish Church of St Peter with Saxon origins, an early Quaker community and a Methodist chapel inspired by a visit from Methodist founder John Wesley, and near to the neighbouring monastic site of Mount Grace Priory. The Archbishop met and greeted local people in the village centre.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Whitby, the Rt Revd Paul Ferguson and Archdeacon of Cleveland Samantha Rushton attended Friday evening’s ‘Burn’ creative worship event at All Saints’ Parish Church, Northallerton.

Saturday 14th April

The Archbishop of York joined around 200 local farmers and others for breakfast at the Gavel CafĂ© at Thirsk Farmers’ Auction Mart. With Archdeacon Sam Rushton, Dr Sentamu took the opportunity to meet and talk with staff, farmers, and other visitors to the Mart, where local Curate, the Revd Dianne Gamble and Assistant Yvonne Bowling have established a chaplaincy service over the last 18 months, getting to know regulars and providing a listening ear. The Archbishop was pleased to meet members of the Christian Motorcyclists' Association from East Yorkshire who had dropped in for breakfast, while staff were preparing the Mart for a sale of antique railway memorabilia later in the morning.

Archbishop Sentamu visited Thirsk Market in the town’s square for an hour. Based at a stall staffed by local church members in the midst of the market, Dr Sentamu and Archdeacon Sam Rushton met some of the hundreds of passers-by and shoppers (including the famous Mrs Jean Green, star of 'The Yorkshire Vet' TV series), engaged in conversation about life and faith, prayed with people and issued invitations to join nurture and discussion groups after the weekend.

At noon the Archbishop arrived at Sowerby Parochial Hall for ‘Sweaty Church’ - families learning, praying and worshipping together through physical activities. With organisers Pauline Alderson, Children and Young People's Development Worker at St Oswald’s Parish Church, Sowerby, and the Revd Glynn Diggins, Curate of Malton, he met children and families, and spoke about his own experience of sport in a life of faith.

Dr Sentamu went on to Thirsk Athletic Bowls Club for the start of the Mowbray Deanery Bowls Competition and an impromptu bowls lesson before it got under way. About 50 people from bowls clubs across the deanery – some are church members and some are not – had entered; the Archbishop spoke briefly on ‘An Introduction to Faith’ and took some questions before the action began.

He joined Bishop Paul Ferguson on the Deanery stall in Northallerton’s Street Market, where local church members organised by Recognised Parish Assistant Peter Harbord had been on duty from 9.00am offering prayer, engaging in conversation and evangelism, inviting people to the Sunday event as well as follow-up events and courses. Saturday street markets are the busiest time of the week, often bringing over a thousand visitors to the town from the Dales and surrounding areas.

Dr Sentamu dropped in at Welbury Village Hall for the popular annual fundraising afternoon tea organised by the Parochial Church Council.

In the evening the Archbishop attended ‘Supper with Sentamu’ – a ticketed supper at Romanby Golf Club raising money for the Farming Community Network (FCN), a voluntary organisation and charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. Dr Sentamu met diners and spoke after dinner, encouraging people to tell their stories, find out more about Jesus and hear about what Christians are doing in the local area. There was an auction in aid of FCN.

At 10.00pm Archdeacon Sam Rushton joined the Northallerton Street Angels for their overnight shift (until 4.00am Sunday) in the town. Northallerton Street Angels are a community initiative led by the New Life Baptist Church to support and reassure those in town on a weekend night.

Archdeacon Sam said: “Street Angels have become an increasingly visible support for people who find themselves a bit out of their depth on a night out in many towns and cities across the country. I’m really looking forward to getting my wings and joining the ‘Angels’ as they bring a bit of comfort and joy to the streets of Northallerton on Saturday.”

Sunday 15th April

At noon the Archbishop presided at the final service of the Mowbray Deanery Mission weekend in Northallerton Town Hall and spoke to encourage people wherever they are in their relationship with God to take the next step as they respond to God’s call. People from across the Mowbray Deanery (the parishes clustered around Northallerton and Thirsk) were joined by those invited at other events through the weekend for the service and lunch afterwards.