God cares for people in the farming communities is the message of this week’s film in our year long campaign to tell the story of our rich and varied life here in the Diocese of Leeds.
Up in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, St Andrew’s Church, Gargrave and St Peter’s Church, Coniston Cold have been reaching out to farmers and those working the land in different ways over the years. Coniston Cold has been running late afternoon services at Harvest and Christmas to fit the farming day. There’s an evening Christmas Carol Service with Brass Band and a teatime Harvest Festival followed by Harvest Supper and Auction.
And to make more connections their vicar, the Revd David Houlton, joined the Gargrave Agricultural Show organising committee, and in 2015 Gargrave PCC created the "St Andrew's Cup" for the champion Blue Faced Leicester sheep at the Gargrave Show which runs every August.
You can watch David at the show here.
As a result of that connection, both David and his wife, the Revd Heather Houlton, now steward the Dog Section at the show - which has rounds such as dog with the best eyes and the waggiest tail!
Said David: “It’s really important to be connected into the community.
“Many out there find it difficult to get involved in church events as they work long hours – we have to take church to them to show that God cares for people in the farming communities of Craven.”
“We plan to be at the Gargrave Agricultural Show again this summer - this time with more activities in the "Church About The Dale" hopefully nurses giving health checks and a specialist from the church giving "happiness checks!” he added.
Gargrave Show 2017 is on Sat 19 August at Eshton Hall just off the A65 at Gargrave.
The Churches have just come to the end of their largest project – "Voices of Craven". This series of concerts, which links church and community and gives amateur singers the opportunity to perform alongside professionals, is in its second year and ran in churches across Craven from Gargrave to Clapham throughout June.
It has featured many local and international artists and musicians including Sopranos Sarah Fox and Bibi Heal, folk singer Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span), John Bell of the Iona Community, the Ripon Cathedral Choir and Swedish Jazz and Folk Gospel musicians, Anna and Andreas Andersson of the Scargill Community. Profits will go towards supporting music teaching and possible scholarships for local young people.
David explained: “Voices of Craven grew out of discussions between Dales parishes to arrange a visit by Ripon Cathedral Choir to sing choral Evensong for us at Kirkby Malham.
“Out of that came the idea of running other events at other parish churches, and, in parallel, developing village choirs with local choir rehearsals….and it just grew from that.
“Among the objectives, Voices of Craven wants to build community through the love of community singing, and to connect communities with their parish churches,’ he added.