Notes and News

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Bill Snelso

Bill Snelson RIP

Bill Snelson

We are very sorry to report that Bill Snelson General Secretary of CTE from 1997 to 2008 died on 17th December.

 He was previously Secretary of West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC) which preceded West Yorkshire Churches Together (WYCT)

Bill was taken into Goldsborough church on Tuesday, 22 December for a Vigil. The funeral service was on Wednesday 23rd. 

Well done, good and faithful servant

Peter Whittaker, a personal friend of Bill and Beryl , was Chair of the West Yorkshire Methodist District, Chair of CTE’s Trustees and Convenor of its Enabling Group. In an appreciation in the next WYCT Newsletter, he will reflect on Bill’s significant contribution to ecumenism in England

Reports July ’20

Linda Fielding reports as member of Sandal Methodist Church and Churches Together…..

Each day during the lockdown there has been ‘Pandemic Jottings’ this has been an excellent online daily notice with thoughtful readings, information and inspirational items and snippets. People have been printing them and delivering them to local church members and neighbours. As a way of keeping in touch it has enabled many people to still feel connected to the church family. 

And…From the Wakefield District City of Sanctuary perspective: 

Not everything closed at the start of the pandemic, the Sanctuary Garden has been maintained throughout the lockdown. The Clothing Store also stayed open and morphed into a mini food bank. 

Different volunteers connected to the Creative Craft group, supported the Clothing Store by making a variety items such as picknick and play mats and shopping bags. Individual Knitters of Sanctuary have supplied baby layettes, blankets, knitted cardigans, jackets, hats etc. 

Many of the other volunteers have supplied writing equipment, colouring materials, games and crafts; all of which has been sent to both the initial accommodation and people dispersed in the community. Generally, throughout the pandemic people have been very generous and supportive. 

Clothing Store and Foodbank:

The Clothing Store has been running throughout the pandemic. WDCofS has had funding to buy new clothing and shoes for asylum seekers in initial accommodation. Currently, Urban House, the main Initial Accommodation Centre, has 270 people; this is a reduction of 60 to enable better social distancing. Approximately, 250 asylum seekers are in initial accommodation in hotels. The Clothing Store also offers clothing to dispersed and destitute asylum seekers. During the lockdown more dispersed asylum seekers have been requesting clothing and food support due to lack of funds and to the fact that they do not have bank account and cannot shop online. 

When the lockdown started all the drop-ins were closed. The administration of the Asylum Seekers Support Fund (ASSF) transferred to the Clothing Store and the mini foodbank rapidly developed. The ASSF is operating on a delivery basis and on Wednesdays, volunteer drivers take food, toys and clothing to between 12 and 15 addresses. The Clothing Store is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and over the 3 days between 15 and 20 asylum seeker and struggling refugees call in for support. The Clothing Store is very close to the Kindness Shop and they give food support on the days we are open. We also direct people to them and they are very willing to help. 

An outside agency Central Asylum Yorkshire runs a surgery at the Clothing Store on Wednesday afternoons. This agency helps people to apply to the Home Office for section 4 support and accommodation; whilst they are waiting for the support Wakefield District City of Sanctuary, through the ASSF and Clothing Store, offer financial and practical support. 

With all the Churches, Mosques and places of worship being closed many people are missing the social and moral support as well as the practical support. Asylum seekers in dispersed accommodation are not provided with TVs, radios or internet connection, consequently their isolation has been extreme. There are about 20 multi-occupancy dispersed accommodation houses in Wakefield and Wakefield District City of Sanctuary has only been able to be in regular contact with 5 or 6 of them; we have offered radios but have not been able to do anything about TV’s or internet connection.

Whereas we have been very active with the initial accommodation the dispersed asylum seekers have really suffered during the lockdown. We are looking at ways to open our doors, however at the moment space for socially distancing is an issue. In the interim we are looking at developing an online presence and offering sessions and signposting as well as offering a welcome from the Clothing Store. 

Note: Since this was written, cases of Corvid19 have been found in a family but this is being dealt with: the family has been moved and testing is taking place with other residents. Check before any visits.

Black lives matter

As Leader of Faith Communities in Wakefield we know that Black Lives Matter. There is nothing holy about the death of innocent people. The recent images of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis have shocked the world and as Faith Leaders in Wakefield we want to make it clear that we are:

Something has taken over from death and disease in the media: death under a policeman’s knee in the US with the victim black, as is often the case. Local church and religious leaders have made statements and we will publish some here when we can. Some have been heroic like the US Archbishop who publicly “bent the knee” in solidarity with the protest. Shortly afterwards he received a phone call from the pope, but of approval, not rebuke.

The Bishop of Wakefield circulated this message on behalf of a group of church leaders.

• appalled by the violence committed against a human being created in the image of God.

• shocked too by the incendiary language, poor judgement and violence against peaceful protest that has followed in the wake of George’s death.

We recognise that racism is embedded in many institutions and cultures, including our own, and for too long we have been all been complicit in injustice and in perpetuating prejudice and racism. We recognise that we have allowed ourselves to become estranged from God’s heart and from the people he loves – including black people in our own churches, mosques and communities. We recognise we need to listen to and learn from our black sisters and brothers. We need to reflect, repent and act differently across our City and District to forge together a better future where all have a voice, are able to contribute and live free from fear and oppression. We wish to help build relationships in our City and District so we are not just helping people different from us address problems, but finding common cause with partners and friends to forge a better future together. We hope that through our listening we can together with others shape better policies, practices and priorities in our city and district. We remember the words of the late MP Jo Cox who was brutally murdered in Batley in 2016, “We have more in common than divides us”. We must not let anything or anyone divide us”. We send our sincere thoughts and condolences to the family of George Floyd and to the victims of cowardly attacks on innocent people elsewhere. 

Ascension Day Service at Sandal Castle

It is good to report that  fifteen or so churches prayed the nine days from Ascension to  Pentecost that we may be freed of the Corona Virus and all that it brings with it.

The nine days each began and ended with a short service at Sandal Castle led by the Bishop of Wakefield, Tony Robinson.

We have hope that our prayers are heard.  We must continue and also remember those who have died and those dear to them.

Care for those you are praying for, pray for those you are caring for.

The list of participating parishes and churches is as follows: thanks to everyone 


TAIZE: For Pentecost, young people from around the world recorded this remarkable video of the much loved Taize song “Veni Sancte Spiritus” -Come Holy Spirit- each from their own home. Click on the arrow below to watch.. The verses are printed below…

Veni Sancte Spiritus (Taize) (Come Holy Spirit)

Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Come, Father of the poor, come, generous Spirit, come,
light of our hearts.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and
strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

You are only comforter, Peace of the soul.
In the heat you shade us; in our labour you refresh us,
and in trouble you are our strength.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

On all who put their trust in you and receive you in faith,
shower all your gifts.
Grant that they may grow in you and persevere to the end.
Give them lasting joy!
Veni Sancte Spiritus

(c) Ateliers et Presses de Taize: a CD including this song can be purchased direct from Taize : Look for “Music of Unity and Peace” which was produced with Deutsche Grammophon in 2015. An International choir of young people have also recorded it for Pentecost- see above on this page.

Farewell to Wakefield Hospice Chapel

The Chapel at Wakefield Hospice was part of the original design with its coloured glass and curved walls. Now it is no more: the shape of the walls can still be seen but it seemed that this part of the building is to become a cafe. Over the years, it has seen happiness and sadness, and most of all, comfort and prayer: many services, some of hope, others of consolation and some to mark anniversaries and events. The cross shown here was crafted by one of the medical staff when the hospice had opened. It has always been above the altar table. The hospice has always had a Christian tradition, but included other faiths and all those who are seekers for truth.

Wakefield Cathedral

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