The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell hopped on board a bus yesterday to bless its use for ministry, in Dewsbury 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's launch event for Faith in the North at Dewsbury Minster was on the 10th October, St Paulinus' Day in the Church’s calendar, celebrating 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, the 98th Archbishop of York, led prayers in the Chapel at Dewsbury Minster dedicated to St Paulinus, and 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, Archbishop Stephen joined in Morning Prayer at Wakefield Cathedral, and walked with Bishop of Huddersfield Smitha Prasadam from Christ Church South Ossett to Dewsbury Minster, calling in 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.

The Revd Neil Walpole, Associate Priest in the 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.”