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The Tour de Yorkshire an act of welcome and participation

I was talking yesterday about a home being a place of memories and belonging. Here in my home town of Ilkley, memories were made today as people gathered for the Tour de Yorkshire. Cycling has become a growth enterprise in Yorkshire and the success of events like these are are helping many small communities feel good about themselves.

I hope the route of the Tour de Yorkshire can be varied in future to bring in some of our communities that have lower levels of wealth and commercial appeal.  Perhaps the event could run through a council estate or an urban area in need of cheering up?

The value Welcome to Yorkshire has brought through the success of the Tour de France is hugh and it’s not primarily about cycling but about the pride people have in where they live and the excitement generated through shared celebrations. People enjoy being welcoming and the pride they have in the quality of that welcome is not hidden or modest but exuberant and joyful.

This will be a positive memory which will live on and be recalled through photographs and videos. Just as important will be the legacy of new relationships formed as people come together and participate in all sorts of different ways.

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Stonegate Listening

I am sitting in the beautiful little church of Stonegate in the heart of historic York. I don’t have a camera with me so you will just have to imagine. Ancient architecture darkened with time but enriched with a sense of history. Outside there is a busker sininging ave maria operatic style. It is a creative place where memories unfold into the present day multi dimensional culture.

My meeting at York University ended about thirty minutes ago. We have been talking about how we serve people at the most deprived end of the UK’s social scale, specifically the homeless.

The aim of the conversation was to determine what kind of change steps are needed to ensure those vulnerable to homelessness find a pathway offering hope. Financial security, food, shelter, safe spaces are the basics but what then?

We discussed the concept of “home” and whether this needs to be a much richer concept than simply having a place to go or a family to belong. We imagine home as a place where memories are made and celebrations are held. The walls of a home, like this church in Stonegate, tell the family story which is constantly being retold and enriched. When you find yourself at home your history and culture will change the fabric of the place and new layers of memory laid down.

Going from being homeless to being at home is a profound thing.  We felt that deep listening was a good place to start – without the ability to listen. individually and as a society, we will all be poor. When we listen we are doing so in order to allow others to be heard. We are saying let’s appreciate who you are, we want you to be part of us – and more than that we want to be changed by you.

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Everyone needs a place …

Everyone needs a place to think. For me it us usually walking on the moor or in the woods. At other times we need to interact with those around us, in which case the office in Leeds is a good place.

However, doing admin and getting it done there’s no better place that here.  I don’t like doing admin so the fewer distractions the better.  Having nearly finished it I am rewarding myself with a sandwich on the sofa looking at my desk in the office at home.

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Living differently

We live in an apparently divided and competitive world. Our leaders are vulnerable human beings within a prevailing culture which separates the winners from the losers, the strong from the weak.

We build our towers as high as we can. We build so that we can impress our neighbours not in order to serve them; upwards not outwards.

The world economy is one in which we compete to influence what people think, feel and believe. It is a tough and often brutal economy of ideas.

The important trading routes are no longer international shipping lanes but the optic fibres and satellites uploading and downloading ideas; each trying to corner the market.

God has given us a different reality. It is not a product that can be bought or sold, not a lifestyle choice or the next big idea. You can’t buy shares in the God’s reality. God’s reality is the world made as he/she intended. And it is here, if we look for it. Surprisingly nearby.

God’s world is one in which we are able to live together, share ideas and work towards communities without fear, free from poverty and injustice; where all people are valued for who they are and have a place at the table. It is not a divided world and doesn’t separate the winners from the losers.

This world is the real world because God came to make it real.

Jesus was and is a real person who engages with people at a personal and intimate level. He is the everyday messiah. He is divine and yet takes an interest in people as they go about their daily lives without favouritism. He brings hope to the worst of us. The early church with its examples of hospitality and community living has endured and is important to us now.

How can we choose God’s vision in the everydayness of our lives? What does it mean to model God’s reality in the way we live and work together? Is it enough to trade ideas and win arguments – or do we first need to quietly and modestly become the idea? Living differently.

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What makes a flourishing city?

Went to an inspiring evening at Bradford Cathedral last night bringing together a wide representation of people representing the City. Flourishing City asked what it takes for a city to flourish. There were some very influential people there including senior management from the council, church leaders, faith groups and activists. Here are my notes.

Jerry Lepine the dean was great. I have to applaud his enthusiasm for the subject of ‘city’ and the welcome he gave. He introduced the evening by saying the cathedral belongs to the City – “it is your cathedral” he said.

We are not about just delivering big shiny boxes, we must step back and allow the next generation to come through endlessly curious, telling stories and connecting people.  [Kersten England]

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Digital Mental Health Checker

The government estimates that one in four people in the UK will suffer from a mental disorder (whatever is meant by that), and that the cost will be £105 billion to the economy. Shockingly 75 per cent of problems will start in young people starting by the age of 18. But is this just about numbers?

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A distressing number of young people are on the edge of their emotional capacity, and indeed there have been three tragedies among teenagers which have come to my attention in the last few weeks. I can’t begin to imagine how we cope with that.

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Who is my neighbour?

A really wonderful discussion last night led by Bishop Toby Howarth and organised by the Thinking Faith Network in Thornbury, Bradford.  The bishop took the parable of the Good Samaritan and the question to which it responded.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ … and, Love your neighbour as yourself.

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Voices in Craven

Getting back into the swing of work after our holiday in Venice. A tough transition!

A20422118284_a71f54989c note from Rev David Houlton one of our rural officer for the diocese gave me great joy.  All this month there is an initiative called Voices in Craven which is encouraging local people to engage with their local churches.  Throughout June there will be a number of vocal performance events of various flavours – these range from Jazz performances to traditional church music.

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