Senior Church Leaders and Christians (including a family from Baildon Methodist Church) from a wide variety of Churches across West Yorkshire have been processing through the streets of Leeds in an Ash Wednesday walk of witness. The walk was organised by the WYEC and aimed to celebrate diversity and demonstrate against ‘narrow political attitudes’ in the run-up to the General Election.
The ‘procession to celebrate diversity’ included Church Leaders of several different Christian denominations and included Bishop Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield), Bishop Walter Jagulski of the Lutheran Church, Rev Liz Smith (Chair of the Leeds Methodist District), Rev Kevin Watson (Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod of the URC) and Msgr Michael McQuinn (Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Leeds)
After united prayers at St Johns’ New Briggate, the procession wound its way towards the entrance to the Trinity Centre, where, accompanied by Leeds Minster Choir, a huge banner of the nations was unfurled. The Act of Witness continued as choristers from Leeds Minster led by Master of Music, Simon Lindley, led hymns.
Rev. Kevin Watson, and Chair of West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council, said “…in the approach to the General Election, we must not seek to scapegoat people of different cultures. In unity, as Christians, we rejoice in the rich diversity of God’s people in our churches, city and region. We have invited people from all churches to join in this unique procession of unity, to celebrate our diversity…”
WYEC represents the main historic Churches of the region. The WYEC senior church leaders have a tradition of coming together in unity each year on Ash Wednesday, a day many churches keep as the first day of Lent (in 2015, on 18 February). In previous years, church leaders have highlighted the plight of people seeking sanctuary in the UK, people in debt, victims of political extremism, and hungry people using food-banks.
Secretary of WYEC, Rev Dr Clive Barrett, said, “…this year, as the General Election approaches, we are concerned at narrowing attitudes in society and a negative distrust of anyone thought to be foreign or different. Today, WYEC church leaders encourage all Christians to stand against this narrowness, to be a positive sign of hope, to rejoice that each of us – everyone – is made in God’s image (Genesis 1.27). We celebrate the richness in our churches, our city and our region that comes from people of many cultures and nationalities. We are united in our faith in Christ (John 17.20-23), and we are also diverse in our backgrounds and cultures; and we are all the better for it.”