Tag Archives: Sedbergh Cumbria

CMS Link Visit @ Sedbergh, Cumbria ❤️

Ah Sedbergh, such a lovely town, where the streets are so empty early on a Sunday morning, and where the smell of bacon lingers in the air from all the delicious breakfasts on the go (which might explain the empty streets!) ….

and where the pubs and shops have wonderfully evocative names like the Dalesman and the Thirsty Rambler….

or Sleepy Elephant…

and where a classic car might just appear around the corner as you stand to take a photo in the main street…

and where the White Rose of Yorkshire flag flies at the end of town…

while up above the town are the real ‘sleepy elephants’, the Howgill Fells, gentle, grassy rolling hills that can be seen from far and wide, and are such a pleasure to walk on and climb up, especially appreciated after all the rock, stone and boulders of the nearby Lake District. This is the view of the Howgill Fells of all who arrive by car from Kendal, from the M6, from all points west….

And the view from the Howgill Fells of Sedbergh Town nestling just below…

Nestling is not exactly the right word for what Sedbergh does, because the wind is usually so strong that you more likely get the impression that the town is holding on by the skin of its teeth or the claws of its hands to the side of the fells that anchor it down so it doesn’t blow away. At least that was the case on Saturday, when I arrived in Sedbergh for my first CMS (Church Mission Society) Link Church visit of this home leave. It was a typically blustery day, with a cold weather forecast of high winds with sunny spells and showers ~ but how could I not go up those Howgill Fells? I was blown up or staggered up all the way via Winder, Arant Haw and Calders to The Calf 676 m (2,218 ft) and back ~ that’s all the way over the sleepy elephants, so named by Wainwright, and it so fits!

You will see from the panoramic photo below a new development of houses going up in a field on the west (centre right) side of Sedbergh. Like most towns in exceptionally scenic areas of this country, so many of the houses in Sedbergh are second homes or let as holiday homes, with the result that local people can’t afford to buy into the property market, and this new development is planned to help alleviate that problem. Fifty homes are going up, some for sale on the open market, some for rent via Housing Associations and some for sale to local people.

Sedbergh is a Book Town – so it’s full of bookshops, and even the old bus shelter is a book shelter…

And it has a famous public school, Sedbergh School, with its library, chapel, boarding houses, classrooms and playing fields scattered all over the central part of town ~ the school is the main source of employment, and of course the staff and pupils keep all the shops and businesses going too, a win-win for everyone.

Right in the centre of town, St. Andrew’s Church, Sedbergh is part of the Western Dales Mission Community, described on their website as ‘an ecumenical initiative in the Cumbrian part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park that brings together Anglican, Methodist, United Reformed Churches and our companions along the way’.

Since my previous visit in January 2019, they have a brand new vicar, Rev. Andy Burgess, who started in January 2022, taking over from Rev. Andy McMullon, who has moved to Belguim. Yes, Sedbergh Church is dedicated to St. Andrew and both present and past vicars are also called Andrew. The previous one to Andy McMullon, who I also knew, was Rev. Alan Fell, so it’s definitely the amazing A-Team at Sedbergh! They are all so lovely. This is Andy Burgess with Susan, one of the world’s most cheerful churchwardens …

My connection with Sedbergh goes back to 1996, when my parents retired and moved to Sedbergh, not far from my brother who lives in the Lake District. They stayed in Sedbergh for 18 years, and got to know lots and lots of really great people, many of whom are still friends even today. I must mention our wonderful next-door neighbours who I visited yesterday, and who recently celebrated their Golden Wedding – hence the pose! My mother, bless her, remembers them more than anyone else in Sedbergh, they were just fantastic neighbours, and so good to us!

In 2008, the then Bishop of Taiwan, David J. H. Lai and his wife, Lily, along with Rev. Charles C. T. Chen and his wife MaryJo visited Sedbergh before the Lambeth Conference. Many Sedbergh people still remember their visit (including Susan the churchwarden, above) and even yesterday they were talking about how they had been asked to drive them around and where they had taken them, and all sent their greetings to Taiwan. Charles Chen particularly loved Sedbergh, and always said it was his idea of paradise!

St. Andrew’s Church, Sedbergh

Rev. Andy Burgess and his wife Joy both come from Kendal so it’s lovely to hear a local accent, they went through the local schools in Kendal too, and they’ve been warmly welcomed to Sedbergh, it’s clear that everyone loves them to bits! They have their hands full with 4 small children, including a new baby, but they kindly invited me and some of the church members to their home on Saturday evening for a meal. So kind, and it was all so delicious! Actually, that very morning, Andy had been in Carlisle Cathedral at a ceremony when Heather Fraser, from one of the remotest churches in his area of the Western Dales at St John’s Cowgill, received her ‘CMS Certificate in Pioneer Mission‘. Among other things, they report how they have 10 children meeting regularly there for outreach activities. That is incredible, Cowgill is about as far from anywhere as it is possible to be! Yesterday afternoon, they had their Harvest Festival and Apple Picking at Cowgill, and Andy has an article and photos of the event here. Do read it – and please pray for them! Cowgill is so remote that it’s not even signposted in Sedbergh ~ it’s up way beyond Dent…

Since September, St. Andrew’s Church has changed the time of its main Sunday service from 10:30 am to an hour earlier, 9:30 am, so that Andy can get up to Dent for the service there at 11:15 am. Fortunately, he has a whole team of wonderful people who help out with services and running everything, everything seems to work so well! The church was looking lovely too, having just had Harvest Festival last week….

The church has a small and very interesting sculpture called ‘Christ of All Nations’, cold cast bronze by Ruth Pavla Davey, 2012: “This sculpture of Christ expresses a timeless quality which combines contemporary simplicity and rough textures with memories of icons and Romanesque stone carvings. Although its pose retains a traditional sense of authority, it also suggests a possibility of friendship and deep emotional and spiritual connection. The inclusiveness of Christ’s message is very important in the Twenty-First Century, and here He belongs to no specific time, place or race. His multi-national features contribute to the idea of an accessible universal image. Initially modelled in clay, the figure’s movement and energy flow upwards from the earth towards heaven, and outwards to us in a gesture of loving welcome. His strong bare feet remind us of Christ’s earthly life, and time spent in the desert, and of the human suffering which he shares compassionately with us” …..

Yesterday, I gave the sermon at the main Sunday service at Sedbergh, and while the vicar went off to Dent, so we continued on with coffee and refreshments while I showed some photos and shared about Taiwan. No time to grab everyone for photos, but I did try, honest!

Thanks to everyone who came and listened to my sermon and talk and asked so many good questions! 😊😊 The church also had a collection in the main service for my support at CMS, and raised £200, which will be added to their 2022 donation of £150 and sent off to CMS. I’m so grateful to everyone, and to Almighty God! A special shout out to my wonderful and generous hosts, the Dentons, who kindly welcomed me to stay with them, and to the Copes who are so friendly and charitable in every way, as neighbours, friends and ecumenical supporters! It was such a great weekend, and special thanks to Andy Burgess for organizing everything so well, through phone calls and emails (all 10 of them, I counted!) and for his warm welcome. Please do pray for him and his family as they continue to settle in Sedbergh, for the church – and their vision and plan to reorder the back of the church to give more space for ministry, and for the wider Western Dales Mission Community and their outreach into the local community.


Thank you Sedbergh for such a great welcome! ❤️

Following the Star on Epiphany: CMS Link Visit @ Sedbergh, Cumbria!

And what a great weekend it’s been!


The lovely little town of Sedbergh, book-town and home of the famous Sedbergh School, nestles at the foot of the Howgill Fells in Cumbria ~ but is also part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  A double blessing – even on a dull, cloudy day!


The church of St. Andrew’s in Sedbergh has been supporting me ever since my parents retired to the town in 1996, and even though there’s no more resident Lee family in Sedbergh, still the church continues to support me – and they always give me a warm welcome each time. In fact, just walking around the town, and friends drive by saying hello – this is our very friendly former neighbour Jean!


In the last few years, there’s been changes aplenty in the church scene in the town and in the local area. First, in 2014 came the amalgamation of the Dioceses of Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon into what is now known as the Anglican Diocese of Leeds ~ and Sedbergh moved out from the Diocese of Bradford into the Diocese of Carlisle. More recently, the Sedbergh URC and Methodist Churches have kind of come together to form the ‘Cornerstone Community Church’, and together with the Anglican Churches in the area, they are now all part of the ‘Western Dales Mission Community’.

On the first Sunday of each month, including this past weekend, there is a combined service at 10:30 am, alternatively meeting in the Cornerstone Church (which is actually the old Methodist Church) and St. Andrew’s. Today, January 6, celebrating Epiphany, the service was held at Cornerstone, led by the lovely vicar, Rev. Andy McMullon – I preached the sermon and also presented Andy with an artillery shell cross from Taiwan.  The Church of England theme of ‘Following the Star’ this Christmas / Epiphany fitted in really well with my sermon on transformation!



Running at the same time, and also once a month, is a café-church service at the Sedbergh People’s Hall, attracting those who prefer a more informal style of worship, including young families and teenagers.  This has been going for over 15 years, and originally grew out of a children’s holiday club, an outreach of what was the Sedbergh Methodist Church, now Cornerstone.  So immediately after I’d finished the sermon at Cornerstone, off I went to the People’s Hall for their service, arriving just in time to give the sermon.  What a great welcome they gave me!


And then in the afternoon, at 2:30 pm we had an informal power point talk in St. Andrew’s Church…


Since my previous CMS Link Church visit to Sedbergh in November 2014 (see that blog post here), the URC Church has sadly closed its church building in Sedbergh, but in the past, under their previous minister, Rev. Carole Marsden, there were close links with the Taiwan Presbyterian Church – part of a link with Cumbria URC.  At least one young person from Sedbergh has been on the youth exchange trip to Taiwan. Then in 2008 just before the last Lambeth Conference, our Anglican bishop of Taiwan, Bishop David J. H. Lai and his wife Lily, accompanied by Rev. Charles C. T. Chen and his wife, Maryjo spent several days visiting Sedbergh, and loved it ~ in fact, Charles described Sedbergh as ‘Paradise’ after his visit – though presumably the weather was kind to them, cos Sedbergh can be the windiest, coldest and bleakest place on earth at times!

Sedbergh’s Howgill Fells tower over the town; Wainwright described them as a ‘herd of sleeping elephants’ – this is them from the top looking down…


Yesterday, Saturday, I arrived in Sedbergh in the morning with the intention of going up the Howgills ~ and fortunately the weather was kind, although on the ridge at the Calf, the biting wind forced me down a bit, and so I descended by Cautley Spout, quite a beautiful waterfall. Met plenty of sheep too….



I stayed in Sedbergh with Margaret and Andy, and it was wonderful. Thank you! And I saw many of my old friends, none of whom seemed any older (I’ve just checked the photos on my blog post from November 2014, and it’s true!)  Especially pleased to meet long-time CMS mission supporter, Mary Gladstone, who celebrates her 93rd birthday on January 7 – she’s on the left in the photo below, taken with Christine.  Congratulations Mary!


So Happy Epiphany to you all, and special thanks to all in Sedbergh for your warm welcome and ongoing support ~ and to all the sleeping elephants for their charm and splendid views. Ah yes, I love Sedbergh and the Howgill Fells ❤️❤️❤️!

Hot off the press ~ CMS Link Letter # 73!

In 1,400 words (that’s the CMS limit), my long silence on here has ended with the publication today of my latest Church Mission Society (CMS) Link Letter ~ click on this link below and it opens to a pdf document with words and photos describing why I’ve been silent for so long…..

Catherine Lee 73

However, 1,400 words was not enough – and I had to leave much out.  Notably thanking certain people.  My family of course, and all those who offered support and prayers….

Next would be Alice from Mauritius who spent the summer here in Taiwan, staying in my house while she visited her very lovely elderly parents who live up the road from me – while her energetic husband, Bishop Roger was on a mission study tour of the Church of South India.  She is the reason why we visited St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung on Sunday August 6, and I was very grateful for her company and support all summer – and for looking after my house while I was away.

Then there was Rev. Keith C. C. Lee and lovely people of Good Shepherd Church and Kindergarten, Taipei where I had completed only one week of a four-week children’s summer camp when I had to return to the UK.  It so happened that they managed to find another teacher at the last minute, who herself happened to return to Taiwan from her own holiday on the day I left.  Amazing.  God is good.

And especially big thanks to Bishop David J. H. Lai, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang and all the great people of the Diocese of Taiwan, Advent Church and St. John’s University for their support and prayers, and for releasing me for 3 weeks to return to the UK.

And finally, my mobile phone died on me the day I arrived in the UK.  It refused to charge itself and so breathed its last, leaving me phone-less.  As Taiwan is THE best place to buy a new phone, I decided to wait. And anyway, 3 weeks without a phone is not really the end of the world, and gave me a chance to switch off and focus on what was going on there.  So maybe God had a purpose in it all after all!

So, many apologies if you’ve been checking this blog and wondered how come I was so quiet and posting nothing for so long ~ and no explanation either.  Now you know ~ and I hope you will continue your support and prayers as always, thank you!

All Change!

IMG_2143It’s a week of ‘All Change’!

Today the Lee family moves out of Sedbergh, Cumbria.  Truly the end of an era ~ 18 years in fact.  Thanks to all the wonderful neighbours and friends who came round last week to say goodbye, drinking tea amongst the boxes.  Sad to leave, but oh, so many happy memories!

Today the Removals Van is up in Sedbergh loading up all those boxes, and this afternoon I will take my mother to her new place, the supported housing unit of the clergy care home in deepest rural Surrey where my father has been since last July.  All ready for the Removals Van to arrive tomorrow.

For the last week she’s been here in Deal, Kent staying with her sister.  What a beautiful little town, especially today out on the pier, in the sun!


So tomorrow is a big day for us all ~ Ash Wednesday, Chinese New Year’s Eve, and of course Moving-In Day.

To all my friends in Taiwan celebrating Chinese New Year ~ Happy New Year to you all!

To all those observing Ash Wednesday and Lent ~ may it be a meaningful and special time.

And for my parents, well, please pray for them both, their health and strength – and of course, the BIG move!