Tag Archives: Yorkshire

St. Thomas, Batley & Dewsbury Minster: CMS Link Visits @ God’s Own Country!

Yes, ‘God’s Own Country’ as they say about Yorkshire ~ and I just had a wonderful weekend visiting 2 of my very supportive CMS Link Churches in West Yorkshire.  As the locals know, you just can’t beat Yorkshire for anything!

The towns of Batley and Dewsbury are only about a mile apart, in a very hilly area, both are old mill towns, and both have large – and growing larger – Asian Muslim populations, mostly from one area of Pakistan.  Like many areas of the country, the churches are facing huge challenges of aging congregations and declining Sunday attendances.  The Anglican churches are now mostly working in town-wide team ministries, and both have new clergy (or at least new to me!) since I was last in the area.  Special thanks to Anne, lay reader from Dewsbury Minster who kindly welcomed me to stay with her over the weekend ~ this is us with Rev. Simon Cash…..

IMG_2637

First stop, St. Thomas, Batley, looking lovely in the autumn sunshine!

I last visited St. Thomas in April 2015 (see that blog post here), and this past weekend I joined them and gave the sermon for their 9:30 am service, led by the vicar, Rev. Martin Naylor.  Last weekend I was in Cornwall, visiting Joy, who is originally from St. Thomas, Batley ~ I had stayed with her in her Batley home on a previous link visit many many years ago, that’s how come we are friends!  I was delighted to see Gillian, one of my most delightful supporters, and Jeremy, churchwarden and lifelong member of St. Thomas.  Here we all are with Martin…

IMG_2514-001

Myra is also a special person, she also came along to hear me speak at St.Helen’s Church, Sandal only a few weeks ago.  She’s now heard my sermon twice, that’s true dedication!  And I must mention Mary, who arrives early to set up the church, and works hard to sell poppies for British Legion – she was wearing her beautiful poppy outfit of skirt, scarf and shirt all covered in poppies!  And John Walker, warden emeritus ~ ah, so many faithful members of the church were there, even though it was half term and everyone said that many of the younger ones were away.  Then, after the service, we had continental breakfast, yummy yummy!

Later that day, I visited Dewsbury Minster for their 6:30 pm combined evening service of Holy Communion – for all the churches in the team ministry. The church is right in the middle of town and looked lovely as I passed through in the sun at midday!

IMG_2546

My previous visit to Dewsbury Minster was in March 2015 (see that blog post here), and since then they have said goodbye to Rev. Kevin Partington, and welcomed Rev. Simon Cash.   Simon invited me to show some photos during my sermon, and they all gathered to pray for me afterwards.  Very touched.  And we had a choir and hand-bells and Holy Communion, and lots of beautiful music.  And it was all followed by refreshments.

In between visiting these 2 churches, Anne kindly took me to lunch with some Dewsbury Minster friends, and then she took us to visit the nearby Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield.  We were welcomed by Anne’s friend, Br. Philip who took us on a tour.  This was my first ever visit.  Quite an incredible place.  This is the chapel…

IMG_2559

And one of the altars…

IMG_2563

But back to the main purpose of the weekend, and thanks to all at St. Thomas and Dewsbury Minster for your warm welcome, and all the support and prayers over the many years we’ve been linked together.  It’s really appreciated.  Wonderful place, wonderful people.  God’s Own Country indeed!

Sandal Parish, Wakefield ~ And what a great CMS Link Visit!

Setting the scene, ‘Welcome to Worship’ ~ with a beautiful photo of Yushan, Mt. Jade – Taiwan’s highest mountain…..

IMG_0364

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!

IMG_0311

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!

IMG_0357

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.

IMG_0304

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….

43360913_2076609005705245_5637454848732430336_o

And I also gave Rupert one of Taiwan’s artillery shell crosses….

IMG_0416

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!

IMG_0391

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’

P_20181007_153016_vHDR_Auto_1_1.jpg

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!

IMG_0459

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!

IMG_0403

And thanks be to Almighty God for his many blessings, and such good friends and supporters around the country!

 

Reblog: My CMS Link Visit to St. Thomas Church, Batley, W. Yorkshire

RIP Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, tragically killed yesterday in a vicious act of violence. St. Thomas Church, Batley is one of my beloved CMS Link Churches, full of great people, the salt of the earth. When I last visited Batley in April 2015 it was in the midst of the election campaign in which Jo Cox won the seat for Batley and Spen. Praying for her family, friends, and the whole community of Batley at this sad time.

This is my blog post from that visit to St. Thomas Church, originally posted on April 13, 2015….

https://catherinelee234.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/cms-link-visit-to-st-thomas-church-batley-w-yorkshire/

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

The Church of England’s Holy Week and Easter short film of Psalm 22….

“My God, My God why have you forsaken me ?” The words spoken by Jesus on the Cross from Psalm 22 inspired our new JustPray video for Easter. The film follows on from The Lord’s Prayer advert launched by the Church last Christmas which was banned by cinemas for its religious content.

The stars of the film have struggled with drug addiction, crime and homelessness on their journey to faith. Find out more about their stories here: http://www.justpray.uk/Psalm%2022/  Visit www.justpray.uk to learn more about prayer and to share your own prayers.

So do check the Just Pray website here and especially the background stories of the people in the film, and their Saturday Night Gathering…. brilliant!

Selby Abbey ~ wedding venue for Jay Chou 周杰倫!

On January 17, 2015, Selby Abbey suddenly became England’s most famous church.  Not to the English in England maybe.  But in Taiwan and perhaps Mainland China, definitely yes.  Suddenly more famous than Canterbury Cathedral, York Minster, St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey.  And the place has been humming with Taiwanese and Chinese visitors ever since. All coming to see the church and town where famous Taiwanese singer Jay Chou 周杰倫 and his wife were married on that day.  The internet is buzzing with reports of the great event, the Daily Mail one is here. The couple certainly kept it secret at the time, but now the place is well and truly on the tourist map.  It suddenly got itself on my map of must-see places too.  So today, me and good friend Shelagh, off we went on our first ever visit to Selby ~ only 15 miles south of York ~ and what a jewel of a place it is!

IMG_20150417_122944

Selby Abbey was the first monastery to be founded in the north of England after the Norman Conquest of Britain, and the abbey church is one of the few to survive the Reformation. And it all started when St. Benedict had a vision from St. Germain telling him to build a monastery in England in a place where he saw 3 swans swimming.  That was 1069.  About the same time, William the Conqueror was ravaging the north of England, and his son, later to be King Henry I, was born in Selby, the only Norman king to be born in England.   So there you have it.  The 3 swans are a symbol of Selby.  The town guide book is even called ‘Swanning around Selby’.  So that’s exactly what we did for a few hours. We swanned around the town in the sunshine.  Met some Chinese tourists and Selby locals. Heard firsthand about the Chinese tourism boom currently hitting Selby.  So of course we joined in too, took the required photos and had tea and scones, like all good tourists should…

There’s no doubt, Selby Abbey is completely overshadowed by the dominance of York Minster just up the road, and Beverley Minster not far away too.  Selby’s glory is described as that of “a stately old lady, retired to the country with her dignity and memories intact.” But perhaps not for much longer!  It’s now on THE tourist map.  It deserves all the attention it’s getting, it’s been bypassed for way too long.  It is truly a little gem of a place.

So, get there before the crowds, it’s a jewel in the crown that is Yorkshire!

CMS Link Visit to St. Thomas Church, Batley, W. Yorkshire

Some churches just look kinda amazing on the outside – but then are a major disappointment when you get in.  Well, they’re often ancient, beautiful, calm, lovely, but oh so dark, oh so huge, oh so impractical…..

St. Thomas Church, Batley is the opposite.  Huge, dark, imposing and grim on the outside, especially on a rainy day.  But get inside and it’s a whole different world.  No pews, they’re long gone.  It’s all chairs.  And carpet.  And the best thing is the big east window.  RED, so very RED!  And the choir stalls have little red lamps, matching the red window.  Just in case you hadn’t noticed, I LOVE red!  And I love St. Thomas Church.  Always have.  Ever since I first came here in about 1990, when Rev. Lindsay Dew was vicar.  That’s 4 vicars ago.  I measure time according to the number of vicars past.  So it’s 25 years.  Where has the time gone?!

Now there’s a new vicar, Rev. Mark Umpleby.  Just arrived as vicar last November. Fantastic. Such a blessing. He’s so lovely!  As are all the church members.  Hearts of gold. Salt of the earth.  True Yorkshire folks.  Spades are definitely called spades round here. And Yorkshire hospitality at its best.  Roast dinner with 8 dishes.  Yes 8!  That was Molly ~ where I stayed.  She cooked and cooked all weekend.  And she’s over 80.  Amazing. Incredible.

So a weekend of feasting and talking and speaking and meeting all my old friends and making new ones.  There’s 4 churches in the Batley Cluster, and yesterday St. Andrew’s Church, Purlwell also joined us for the morning worship.  So good to see so many families in church.  All supporting everything, including CMS.  And they presented me with a £250 cheque for CMS, raised from their Lent Lunches.

Batley is close to Dewsbury, where I was a few weeks ago, both are old mill towns.  Now Batley even has the UK’s biggest retail mill just down the road.  Both towns have very large Asian Muslim communities, and the churches are on the front-line of community building and interfaith ministry.

So a fantastic weekend – and so nice to meet all my old friends again!  Oh yes, and some visitors came who it turned out I’d known years ago in Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield. Ah, it’s a small world!

Thank you Mark, Molly and everyone at St. Thomas, Batley ~ YES, a great church!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

An hour.  Never long enough of course.  Certainly not to see everything at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  But worth it on a sunny spring day with an hour to spare….

There’s tons of sculptures by famous people like Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and even Ai Weiwei… so many in fact that it’s impossible to look at everything – so a few highlights only!

IMG_20150411_140444 wpid-img_20150411_140757.jpg wpid-img_20150411_144535.jpg wpid-img_20150411_141851.jpg wpid-img_20150411_143344.jpg

Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei (above) is located right next to what was the old chapel, now used for an art installation about coal.  The tree is constructed from branches, roots and trunks from all different trees.

Recycled chapel, recycled tree…. it’s a fun place – do GO and check it out!