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12th July 2017

Thousands of Lancashire schoolchildren join together for Stadium Worship Celebration

Thousands of primary school children in Lancashire and in South Africa were linked together this week at a huge stadium worship event organised by a Lancashire parish, with support from the Diocese.

Some 4,000 children and adults from schools throughout Lancashire were invited to the home of Blackburn Rovers, Ewood Park, for St James’ Lower Darwen’s South African Cross Culture Event.

The schools came from Blackburn, Darwen, Tockholes, Freckleton, Salesbury, Standish, Coppull, Blackpool, Cockerham, Colne, Barrowford, Accrington, Baxenden, Eccleston, Preston, Hoddlesden, Lancaster, Parbold, Foulridge, Great Harwood, Fleetwood and Whalley.

They were welcomed by Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, who also encouraged the thousands in the stadium to always embrace difference … whilst tearing open his shirt to reveal his true colours, as an Arsenal fan!

The spectacular event involved South African music; worship; puppetry; an appearance by Christian storyteller Bob Hartman and an alternative take on the famous Good Samaritan story involving rival Blackburn and Burnley FC fans, a rubber brick and a rubber hammer!

The whole experience was beamed live to a similar gathering of youngsters from churches in Blackburn Diocese’s twin Diocese of Bloemfontein in South Africa.

The get-together was part of ‘Mission Possible’, a week of events and celebrations organised by St James’ neighbouring churches which was supported by a team of visiting Christian leaders from the South African twin Diocese. Archdeacon Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn, also supported the event at the stadium.

Speaking as the thousands of children streamed into the stands Bishop Philip said: “There is a wonderful sense of joy and expectation in the stadium. The children are so delighted to be here. I hope they can start to reflect on what it means to follow Jesus Christ. It’s a fantastic celebration too of church school life in our Diocese.

He added: “We have amazing church schools across the County and it’s great to be able to bring so many of them together to give them a sense of being part of something much bigger.”

Director of Blackburn Diocesan Board of Education, Stephen Whittaker, added: “This has been a wonderful event and we are delighted so many children from so many of our schools around Lancashire took part. We hope it has been a memorable day for all of them and we thank the teachers and support staff who have brought them today, as well as the organisers of the event itself.”

Rev Tim Horobin from St James’ Church added: “There is a real need in our nation just now for an event like this and for something to celebrate. We have had an amazing week of mission where people have had chance to find out about freedom and forgiveness with the help of the mission team from our link Diocese in South Africa.”

A highlights video will be available soon on our Diocesan YouTube channel here.

Pictures from the event will also be available shortly in an album on our Flickr channel here.


Ronnie Semley