The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

Churches Together Eastertide Pilgrimage and Songs of Praise - Come and See; Come and Worship

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Several months ago, during a meeting of Churches Together in East Leeds, a light bulb moment occurred. The thought was, of opening up all our Churches in the area, a little bit similar to the Heritage Open days. This was aimed at people who have lived near, or had walked past these buildings many times but had never been into these places of worship. Furthermore it was an attempt to try and attract people from the respective Churches to engage with and to lift the profile of Churches Together.

A small working group was formed and the idea was talked about in great detail and this is what emerged. Nine Churches opened their doors on Saturday 21st April, two weeks after Easter. This week had been planned in the hope of better weather and particularly as the children would then be back at school. Some Churches opened from 10 am until 12 noon and then again 2 pm to 4 pm, one Church opened across the lunchtime from 12 noon until 2 pm and some just opened in the morning to allow members to travel to other Churches themselves. Pilgrims were encouraged to visit as many Churches as possible, either individually or in a group. A variety of events were planned; some had display boards with lots of archive material on view, and others had a short video of their history playing. Others had guides who offered to escort Pilgrims around their Church. An organ recital in one Church and in another, a music group sang. In another a treasure hunt/quiz was an opportunity for Pilgrims to find out about what even regular worshippers had been unaware.

Refreshments were offered at each Church; teas, coffees and biscuits; some even stretched to scones and cakes - yummy.

Pilgrims were encouraged to leave a prayer at each Church they visited, a basket was provided for this purpose. A programme or Passport was created similar to the Camino, pilgrims, instead of having a stamp they had to find a letter, not prominently displayed and record this on their passport before moving on to the next Church. Many people said that it was very enjoyable, to make new friends and meet people from neighbouring Churches.
The following day, Sunday 22nd April at 4pm many people from the nine different Churches gathered at St James Manston for a Songs of Praise. Representatives from each Church had been asked to choose a hymn or a reading which reflected the personality of their people or their Church and to introduce this at the service.
The letters which had been displayed in the various Churches were brought up and displayed against the altar; this spelled out the sentence ‘H E I S R I S E N'. Prayers that had been left in the respective Churches were brought up in procession; this simple, symbolic gesture unified us all.

Many said that it was a beautiful service; the singing almost "lifted the roof". Afterwards lots of people stayed behind for refreshments and truly enjoyed each others' company.

Tony Pickles
Churches Together in East Leeds representative for the parish of Blessed John Henry Newman

Published Mon 4th Jun 2018 01:52:26
Last Modified on Mon 4th Jun 2018 01:55:08

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