As we welcome the new year, it is worth recognising that the month of January can bring unique challenges for many in our community. The end of the festive season often comes with financial difficulties, particularly as we are still in the midst of a cost of living crisis and, in times such as this, our local churches are invaluable pillars of support.
Over the past few weeks, I've had the privilege of visiting a number of exceptional churches here in Barnsley, including in Grimethorpe, Wilthorpe, Monk Bretton, Darton, and the Town Centre. This highlighted to me the incredible work being done for people and the sense of community and togetherness these churches foster.
Royston’s St John the Baptist is a perfect example of this. The Church is one of only a handful across the country to have an Oriel Window. Dating back to the 1340s, the Window was lit up at night to guide lost souls and, very much in that spirit, the Church still provides guidance to all those in need.
Emmanuel Church is another, serving as a community hub and hosting a wide range of events from exercise classes for those with Parkinson’s to beginners’ lessons in yoga for those wanting to get fit. They also host the extraordinary Barnsley Youth Choir and are a brilliant venue for their concerts! Since their doors opened, they have supported countless residents and have become a place people can reliably go to in a time of need.
St Mary Magdalene in Lundwood and St Peter the Apostle and St John the Baptist in Monk Bretton – overseen by the indefatigable Father Blair Radford – also do incredible work. They recently hosted an event to combat loneliness, a beer festival showing off the very best local produce, and a free-to-enter fair for all the community. They are making a tangible difference in the community and, under the excellent leadership of Father Blair, they will continue to do so.
In Grimethorpe, St Luke’s Church recently hosted the Grimethorpe Colliery Band Christmas Concert – it was great to be there to see the Band perform live and we have St Luke’s to thank for helping put on the show. The Church also organises regular foodbank collection drives and regularly welcomes charities through their doors to support local residents.
All Saint’s Church in Darton regularly holds crafty critters sessions to bring people together to participate in arts and crafts and have a Muddy Boots hike each month for those who like to explore the great outdoors! I was at their Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and experienced first-hand the excellent sense of community they foster.
These churches and the many others in our Borough are led by exceptional figures, like Father Tim Stevens, Reverend Louise Carr, Pastor Mark Reasbeck, Reverend Phillip Maries, Father Craig Tomlinson, and many more besides who do brilliant work and deserve our appreciation – sorry I can’t name them all!
These hard working leaders, their devoted congregations, and the churches they occupy offer crucial support, deliver much-needed respite, and emanate goodwill and decency to all. Their dedication to our Town is unwavering and I am incredibly thankful for all they do to enrich and uplift our community.