‘Everyone come follow me’, the Lord said,
‘over land, mountain and sea’, the Lord said.
‘Whether it’s sunshine or rain, or wind or storm!
For you’re my travelling wandering race;
you’re the People of God.’
(words from one of the songs we sang on our journey!)
The youth worker at Blessed John Henry Newman Parish, Hannah Zafar, asked how we saw the love of God in Xpedition Xgates, a local holiday club style project which contributed to the Leeds Catholic Diocese “Announce” mission.
We saw the love of God coming through the three young Catholic volunteers and their two supporters. Without them, three churches in Cross Gates wouldn’t have come together to begin the journey and to host three afternoons of activities for Primary and pre-school aged children and their families during the first week of the school holidays. So the organisers of Xpedition Xgates (from St James Manston, Cross Gates Methodists and ChristChurch, Manston Gardens) are glad that these Catholic youth did decide to forgo the papal mass on the beach of Copacabanna, Rio, and came instead to bask in the sunshine of Cross Gates!
The Methodist Church used craft activities, games and celebration worship time along the model of “Messy Church”, all relating to “Bible Journeys by Road”.
St James Church of England Parish built on its “Teddy Praise” group and also had ‘fishy’ drama and craft activities (including a memorable big whale!), and sports on the field, based on the theme of “Bible Journeys by Sea”. Thursday children’s club activities as used at Christchurch, Manston Gardens, formed the basis for “Bible Journeys up a Mountain” and the story of Elijah at Mount Carmel – involving Pastor Grahame in full Elijah garb, alongside his flickering tissue paper fire!
Around 60 children plus family members journeyed with us over the three afternoons of activities, learning and enjoyment.
Xpedition Xgates was advertised by means of assemblies in four local primary schools, and by further publicity handed out to all our school children and in the Cross Gates Shopping Centre. Karen Gray, ConnectingCrossgates community worker co-ordinated the assemblies and received registrations. Those who attended the activities will be contacted about future activities and services geared towards families with young children, and as leaders of the local churches ‘journeying together’ we plan to build on the links we have made as an ecumenical team with our local schools.
As one of the supporters of the Catholic young people said, ‘It showed how faith can be fun!’
So every day, we’re on our way, for we’re a travelling, wandering race,
we’re the People of God.
Rev’d Fran Rhys, Methodist Church & Rev’d Carolyn James, St James, Manston.