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West Yorkshire church offers community Easter in a bag

A part-time vicar of a small West Yorkshire parish church has developed an imaginative way to respond to the challenge of church service closures.

The Rev David Coleman, Vicar of St Stephen’s Church, Steeton with Eastburn in Leeds Diocese says “Hearing so much about local cafes and stores doing home deliveries challenged me. I was thinking about how our Church could try to ensure we connect to those who would want to attend services in Holy Week, but are prevented at the moment from gathering.

“Like most great ideas, it came to me in the shower one morning. I thought that others are better equipped to videocast, so why not do something tangible in which would could share? A lot of our parishioners are not online and the Greenbelt festival manages each year to do picnic-style communion. I thought ‘why not something similar?’.

“I can’t make it 100% risk-free, but well washed, gelled and gloved hands will be prepared to make up the packages containing a palm cross (blessed), consecrated bread and wine (to allow communion by extension), Easter story booklet from LifeWords, prayers, simple liturgy and, of course, a chocolate egg.

“Since I came to the Parish last October, I’ve been struck by a strong sense of community spirit and how so many of our local businesses from cafes, to corner shops, post offices to fruit shops have risen to the challenge posed by COVID-19. It seemed to me that a sort of Easter takeaway was in keeping with the more creative ways we are going to have to think about doing church at the moment.”

On Ash Wednesday Rev Coleman offered ‘Ashes to Go’ at the local railway station, hotel, care home, school gate, nursery  and around the parish.

Community comments include …

“Thank you so for the Holy Week in a bag you delivered to my mum...she was absolutely over the moon and it has meant a great deal to her.”

“Holy Week in a bag. What a great idea and thank you David for dropping a bag off today. No best before dates but I'm sure the edible & drinkable items will save until Easter.  In our case they WILL, there's no doubt about that.”

“Thank you for HWIAB I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday and to be able to join in the service with everyone . Thank you xx.”

“Thank you, David, for keeping us in such a lovely community. Thinking of each other.”

“Thank you padre for todays delivery at first i thought somebody had placed a packet of dog poo on the path. forgive me for my improper assumption.”

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