Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, the 98th Archbishop of York, has unveiled a significant initiative, “Faith in the North,” with the aim of reinvigorating the missionary mission of the Church in the North of England in the coming years.
The launch event took place at Dewsbury Minster, where the life of St Paulinus, the first bishop of York, was celebrated. St. Paulinus established the Church of Saint Peter in York in 627 AD.
This project will be a focal point of Archbishop Stephen’s mission over the next five years, culminating in the 1400th anniversary of the baptism of Edwin, the first Christian King of Northumbria, by the missionary bishop Paulinus in 2027.
The launch event at Dewsbury Minster began with a prayer led by Archbishop Stephen in the Chapel dedicated to St. Paulinus, and it was attended by numerous church leaders from across the North.
Archbishop Stephen expressed his enthusiasm for the forthcoming anniversary and the “Faith in the North” project. He emphasized the significance of revisiting the Church’s history and connecting it with the contemporary world. Archbishop Stephen pointed out that in challenging times during the seventh century, Paulinus established something that has profoundly shaped the nation. He believes that reconnecting with this historical narrative is what the nation needs today.
The essence of “Faith in the North” is captured by Archbishop Stephen in a couple of phrases: it encourages the Church to tell its story, which is not only the story of Jesus but also the story of the saints who brought the Christian faith to the North. The project aims to facilitate this storytelling and spiritual exploration in churches, schools, and communities to equip the Church for its service and mission today. The ultimate goal is to reach out to others and plant new Christian communities.
As part of the launch event, Archbishop Stephen blessed the outreach ministry of the “Destination 211 Bus.” This bus plays a pivotal role in his teaching and preaching ministry and provides essential support to communities in need.
The “Destination 211 Bus” ministry is a beacon of hope for communities grappling with high deprivation. It offers a warm and welcoming space for the community, particularly during the winter months, and extends a listening ear to those in need. The bus also provides emergency food support and hosts an after-school drop-in program where parents and children engage in real discipleship through craft activities and Bible study. “Thrive on the Bus” is a worship session on the bus, creating an environment for learning and growth in faith. It is a heartwarming sight to witness children eagerly sprinting down the hill with their parents to join for conversations, enjoy refreshments, and hear the good news of Jesus.
Archbishop Stephen’s “Faith in the North” project aims to bring this kind of compassionate outreach to the forefront, demonstrating the power of faith in action.
In conclusion, the “Faith in the North” project launched by Archbishop Stephen Cottrell embodies the spirit of revitalizing the Church’s missionary purpose and celebrating stories of faith in the North. By revisiting its history and engaging with communities, the Church hopes to reconnect with its roots and share the message of Jesus. The Archbishop’s blessing of the “Destination 211 Bus” highlights the practical ways in which faith can make a meaningful impact on communities facing challenges. This project promises to bring hope, unity, and renewed faith to the North of England in the years to come.
For more on this initiative, you can listen to the full interview with Archbishop Stephen Cottrell here.