Cherry Burton, Yorkshire

As beautiful as its name, Cherry Burton in Yorkshire has a thriving church. There is only one in the village: St Michael’s. But, in a way perhaps even more pronounced than is common in churches up and down the land, the people who gather there come from a range of denominational backgrounds: from those of a Roman Catholic background through to a variety of free Churches. Amid this variety they rejoice to feel themselves all members of the same Body of Christ.

Under the leadership of two different incumbents and entrusting all to God, the church has endeavoured ‘to be an effective Christian presence and reach out to the local community’. One example of the creativity unleashed is the worship that grows out of their ecumenical make-up. Its monthly cycle sees a variety, from traditional, formal services according to the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer to family communion, prayer and praise and ministry of the word.

St Michael’s has a steady congregation, Sunday by Sunday, usually around sixty people. Not bad for a country parish. But no one knows where God will lead them, as they are deeply motivated to serve all the people of their village community, the most recent initiative being to open a community café.

Howard Petch, a member of this church, says, ‘The interesting thing about our wanting to be an effective Christian presence is the difference it has made to our life together, especially in our worship. The possibilities of an even greater co-operation among ministers, such as between Anglicans and Methodists in the proposals for interchangeability of ministry in Mission and Ministry in Covenant, would make this so much easier!’

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