Author Archives: Alice Marwick

A Spoke in the Wheel: Building an Antirascist Church

By Emma Temple

In light of the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement in the last few weeks, most of us have been taking time to learn and to listen to accounts from our Black neighbours about the pervasive racism in our society, and how we can support and enable anti-racism work. One way I have joined in this work is by listening to a talk hosted by Ben Lindsay on how white-majority churches can respond to racial inequality. 

The window donated to the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama by the people of Wales following its bombing by the KKK in 1963.

The talk highlighted two things to me. The first was a point made by Dr. Robert Beckford, who has found through his research that the church is not fit-for-purpose in its task of tackling racism in the community. He observed that we are very good at social welfare such as charity projects, fundraising and donating, Christmas boxes, things which alleviate the effects of inequality. But what we are not so well equipped for is to work towards social justice. To steal a metaphor from Bonhoeffer, we are very good at pulling people from under the wheel of oppression, but we are not prepared to put a spoke in the wheel itself.

We at All Hallows are very lucky to be a community who talk explicity about justice and seek actively to understand our calling to liberate the oppressed. But this has made me reflect on how this extends to racial justice, and what that might look like in practice. 

‘Silence for fear of getting it wrong forms a very useful comfort blanket.’

Dr. Elizabeth Henry, advisor on race and ethnicity to the Anglican church.

The second thing the talk highlighted to me is perfectly summed up in this quote from Dr. Elizabeth Henry, advisor on race and ethnicity to the Anglican church. She said, “Silence for fear of getting it wrong forms a very useful comfort blanket. There’s no time to think about ‘getting it wrong’. Silence is acquiescence at best and collusion at worst, regardless of the background of fear to it.”

I have definitely been guilty of this. I’ve stayed silent on these issues, and told myself it’s because I don’t want to speak over black people, or I’m not knowledgeable enough to say something, or because it’s something that doesn’t affect me it’s not my place. But Dr. Henry’s words hit home to me that these are excuses, and they’re not good enough any more. Somebody in the Q&A at the end observed that we tell ourselves that the fear we hide behind is a fear of hurting other people, but in fact it’s a fear of looking bad or being labelled a racist. We’d rather hide and stay silent than put our reputation on the line.

I’ve been reflecting on ways I can break this silence, both in my personal life, and also in my communities. Let us use this moment as a church community to ask the difficult questions about where we have been silent, and how we can equip ourselves better to speak out for social justice. Let us use our power as a church to say, boldly and clearly, that Black Lives Matter, and racism has no place in our community or in our society. 

These are just the tip of the iceberg of the wisdom and insights that came out of the talk. If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, here is the link:

Tomorrow (June 14th) at 2.30pm there will be a socially-distanced Black Voices Matter protest at Leeds Millennium Square:

Rainbow Junktion update

Emily and the Rainbow Junktion team are responding incredibly well to a difficult situation. Here’s an update on their work. See at the end for what you can do to help them!

Socially-distanced queue at the café this week

What are they doing

They are serving takeaway food every Monday and Thursday lunchtimes. They have a shop on Monday, Thursday and Friday lunchtimes. They are doing a small number of food deliveries to self-isolating individuals and families. They are acting as a food hub for Hyde Park/Headingley and Woodhouse/Little London wards.

How many people are they supporting

They are giving out 100 or more food parcels per week and on average in April 154 plates of food per day.


Some funding has been lost as there are no bistros, much lower daily donations as people are struggling more financially and they can’t run the half marathon which was a big fundraiser last year.

Some funding has been gained from Leeds Community Foundation, the Council and more individual donations (thank you if that is you!)

Food supplies

Food supplies have changed considerably in this time with some shops and projects have much less and some new supplies have come in. It is quite feast and famine!

Safety provisions for staff and volunteers

The team are taking lots of precautions:

  • Serving from the door so only volunteers are in the building
  • Volunteers advised to stay home if they have any symptoms
  • Doors propped open so no one touches them
  • Strict rules on gloves, masks and social distancing

Conclusion, Emily writes: 

·  The last few weeks have been a steep learning curve but I think we have reacted quickly and well to the crisis. We have definitely got into a rhythm and we are really proud of the work we are doing.

·  It is hard to predict how long this will last or how things will change in the coming weeks but I think we are well prepared and flexible enough to continue as we are doing for the foreseeable future. 

How you can help 

  • Donating financially:  a/c sort code  40-52-40, a/c number 00031454
    Find out about adding Gift Aid, and Paypal donations here
  • Pray for safety for them all 
  • Donating items: If you are walking past on your daily exercise and want to drop some items in the café, useful things are tinned tomatoes, tinned beans, oil, Tupperware pots, shopping bags and baby wipes. Please don’t put yourselves at risk or make unnecessary journeys for this. 

Thanks to Anna Bland for this update.

Our Calling: Five Prayer Stations

Yesterday, as part of our series on ‘Calling’, we gathered around five creative prayer stations.

Station 1: Practising God’s presence

We can find God everywhere – in our homes, in the supermarket, at work, and even at church! We can see God in everyone, and in everything around us. But sometimes we have to actively look beyond what we first see. And part of our calling is just that – to practise God’s presence.

I said to the almond tree: ‘Sister, speak to me of God’, and the almond tree blossomed. Nikos Kazantzakis

You’re invited to take one of the hearts and stick it to the tree, as blossom. As you do this, think of people or situations where you find it hard to see God. When do we see the barren-ness of the tree, rather than the blossom that God brings? How can we look at things differently?

Pray for help to help us see God in each and every part of our lives.

Station 2: Called to Hope

There will be many ups and downs throughout our lives. Times when God feels near, and moments when God feels far away.  Times when we can care for others, but also moments when we need them to support us. Sometimes we can feel weighed down. Despite all of this, we have an eternal hope through the resurrection of Jesus. We’re reminded of God’s everlasting love for us.

You’re invited to lift some of the stones that are covering the picture, and place them in the bowl of water instead. Think of God lifting any burdens that are weighing you down. Think of the cool, cleansing water God offers.
As the picture is revealed, as we each remove stones, reflect on what the hope of resurrection means for you.

Station 3: So what will we do?

We are all called, in different ways and for different things. We might find it hard to recognise God’s purpose for us – because we’re not listening, because we don’t like what we hear, or because we don’t think we can do enough. God wants us to bring our “five loaves and two fishes”. To bring them joyfully and wholeheartedly. But doing a particular thing for God isn’t a life sentence that should weigh us down. And it’s certainly not set in stone, fixed for our whole life. God wants to change us, to help us grow. God offers us the hope of Jesus’ resurrection.

And God smiles on what we offer in faith.

You’re invited to draw a picture in the tray of sand. A picture of what you might offer to God now – of your calling. Think of God smiling as you draw it. And then wipe it away. You might want to draw something else in its place – something that might lie ahead of you?

Pray that God will guide us, and send us out in love and peace.

Station 4: Fives loaves and two fishes is enough

God doesn’t focus on how much we do.  We aren’t “paid” with eternal life for being a good worker.  But our relationship with Jesus does ask us to commit wholeheartedly.  God wants to use everything we’ve got, to be in every part of our lives. But he doesn’t expect us to offer more than our fives loaves and two fishes. That will be enough.

You’re invited to break off a piece of one of the bread rolls. Imagine this is your “five loaves and two fishes”. It’s all you have to offer, but it’s enough.
Place your piece of bread in the centre. The dish will overflow as more people add their contribution. God will use everything that we bring.

Are there parts of our lives that we want to offer more wholly to God? Are there things we’re holding back?

And do we need to just accept the things we can’t do?

Station 5: The Lion King

God made us; knows us; and has a purpose for each of us. But, unlike Simba in the Lion King, we’re not all called to be King of the Pridelands!  
Our calling can change over time. We can be reshaped, renewed.

You’re invited to use the plasticine to make a model of yourself. Maybe as a figure, or perhaps as a symbol? Think of God shaping you as you mould the plasticine. Think of the care taken over each and every part. Then remould your model into something a bit different.  Add some new colours, or take a bit of plasticine away.

Pray for God to keep reshaping and renewing you – calling you.

An evening of celebration, protest and solidarity on Valentine’s Day

”My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite…”
Romeo & Juliet Act 11 scene 2

Love (c) Jessica Hische

Following our response to the bishops’ Pastoral Statement, a few members of the congregation decided to get together at church for an alternative Valentine’s evening yesterday as a symbolic protest to insist that love is far more diverse than the Church may be ready to recognise.

It was a beautiful evening: we prayed through a liturgy of celebration and blessing, we lit candles to remember a dear friend, recently lost, Kye, and to pray for the church to become more compassionate and diverse. We also shared some delicious food. Adriaan had us in stitches with food/sensuality allusions and metaphors from Song of Songs (on hearing this, you’d never look at a pomegranate the same way again!) and Nicola shared a powerful and wonderful poem, which she has just written… and left not one dry eye in the room: 

This is my church, your church and our church, 
a church of unity, sanctuary, asylum, a whole church

Those who have travelled whether willingly or not,
those white or of colour, those with all those who’ve not got

The upwardly mobile, middle roaders and oppressed,
those who’s assigned gender doesn’t meet the way they’re dressed

Those of native language, those with words that helped form it, 
those whose emotions run so deep no words we need, 
those so deeply hurt they can no longer bleed. 

Those who can sing it and shout it that Jesus died for them, 
those scared to even whisper for the weight of silencing from men

When I walk through the doors, oh hi so glad you are here,
not what do we do it’s her, you know her, the queer. 

My name resounds in joyful muse 
never feeling my sexuality, anyone does confuse, 

we are there gods people, 
God’s children worshipping in his image, 
holding up the hearts of those broken whilst they heal, 
holding those so broken they can no longer feel, 
those who had once given up on mankind. 

But here in my church, in your church, in ours, 
all hearts are thrown open and arms wrap tightly 
with the words of our beautiful all inclusive lord, 
we are but people all formed in his image 
so we go forth with strength and rise to the challenge. 

We may have less rights be frowned on by many 
but together we have faith not experienced by any, 
we are the few sent to make us the many. 

Together we grow, divided we fall, 
if you hurt one you will hurt us all, 
but we will take that pain and make it a gain 

For this church is my church is your church is ours, 
our sanctuary, our breath our infinite love divine, 
I am so proud to with these people entwine. 

My church your church ours we conquer, 
ever carried forward by the strength of our father
— Nicola Edmonds, 2020

Here too is an excerpt from the liturgy we used:

An affirmation of Faith and Hope 

O God, Giver of Life, 
Bearer of Pain, Maker of Love, 
affirming in your incarnation 
the goodness of the flesh: 
may the yearnings of our bodies 
be fulfilled in sacraments of love, 
and our earthly embracings be enjoyed 
as a foretaste of the glory to come, 
in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, 
our Companion, our Lover and our Guide. 

May the outrageous welcome of God 
accept us for who we are; 
May the incarnation of the Word 
touch and hold us close; 
May the wandering of the Spirit 
help us risk ourselves for love. 
May God drive us out with power 
to fill the world with her justice. 

First Stop for the Refugee Family #leedscofeadvent

The family have been given shelter at Tim’s and they’re looking comfortable under the leaves of his houseplant. Soon they’ll have to move on though; their long advent journey has barely begun.

Sunday 4 August – LGBT Liberation Sunday

The first weekend of August, Leeds celebrates LGBT Pride. At All Hallows’ church, we start Pride Sunday by celebrating the gift of diversity in God’s creation, and we would love you to join us!

Our Bible reading is about Jacob wrestling with God. It is a story of struggle and transformation that speaks so well to the experience of many LGBT people of faith.

In our service, we celebrate the gift of LGBT people in our midst, we thank God for the progress that has been made with LGBT liberation in our country and across the world, and we pray for full liberation to come.

10:30am, at All Hallows’ Church.