Setting the scene, ‘Welcome to Worship’ ~ with a beautiful photo of Yushan, Mt. Jade – Taiwan’s highest mountain…..
And the sun was out at St. Helen’s Church, Sandal Magna, Wakefield, W. Yorks as I arrived on Saturday afternoon for my CMS Link Visit to the Parish of Sandal Magna – which also includes their daughter church of St. Paul’s, Walton ~ and it was quite some weekend!
These lovely people have supported me and CMS (Church Mission Society) for many many years, since 1989 in fact, and every time I visit, they always roll out the red carpet! What’s more, their vicar, Rev. Rupert Martin just loves art and the church is beautifully decorated with works of art ~ he also loves taking photos, so hey, worshiping there is just like in Taiwan – photos galore of smiling people! Photos in fact of everybody except Rupert’s lovely wife, Sally (spot her in the distance in one photo only!) but she rarely stopped still long enough to have any photos taken ~ the vicarage cat, on the other hand, barely moved all weekend, and enjoyed the heat of the radiator ~ so, well there it is!
My previous visit was on Advent Sunday 2014 (see that report here), when it was the 5th Sunday of November and we had a joint service at Walton on that occasion – while over at St. Helen’s, they had just opened the most beautiful Tree of Life Memorial Garden ~ and there are now many leaves added to the Tree of Life in memory of those who have died. It is really stunning and so meaningful to have this memorial garden in the churchyard.
First though, a visit to nearby Sandal Castle as the sun was just going down…
On Sunday, I did the sermon at both the 9:15 and 10:45 services at St. Helen’s….
And I also gave Rupert one of Taiwan’s artillery shell crosses….
And in-between the services there was coffee, and the second service was followed by their monthly baked potato lunch – so yummy! I also visited Mavis in Walton, one of my dearest friends, she has been so faithful over the decades in her support – I gave her an artillery shell cross. She is the salt of the earth!
There’s about 200 people in total at St. Helen’s and St. Paul’s on any given Sunday, but about 2,000 who are reached through the week, via The Spring Shop and Cafe, the CAP (Christians Against Poverty) project, school assemblies and all the other outreach ministries. Lots of exciting things going on!
I loved staying at the vicarage all weekend, such a nice welcome ~ and on Sunday afternoon, we went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where there were 2 interesting exhibitions, Guiseppe Penone, ‘A Tree in the Wood’…
and THE most beautiful exhibition in the chapel by a Japanese artist – from Osaka – Chiharu Shiota, ‘Beyond Time’ – I LOVE THIS! Spot Sally and Rupert gazing upwards!
So, thanks, and more thanks to all at St. Helen’s and Sandal Parish for such a warm welcome and for all their great support over the years, they are amazing! Much appreciated. Love them to bits!
And thanks be to Almighty God for his many blessings, and such good friends and supporters around the country!