The Carlisle Diocese Ecumenical Mission
It saddens me to write that those of you who were unable to join with us for the events of 8-11 March missed out on exceptional, even once-in-a-lifetime, experiences. There were inspirational words, stimulating sights, uplifting fellowship and warm friendship, not forgetting the delicious food and fun!
The four days were packed with opportunities and those of us fortunate enough to be able to participate felt genuinely blessed as our spiritual awareness deepened plus our knowledge and understanding of our faith was enhanced. Certainly we were challenged and taken out of our comfort zones but the rewards were amazing. Being in the presence of Bishop Libby and her team of four ardent young people, two who are ordained and two who work in Christian outreach organisations, was a privilege, enormously encouraging and stimulating.
The culmination of the days was undoubtedly the informal ecumenical service at the Victoria Hall on Sunday morning. Around 200 local people, Anglicans, Methodists, United Reformed Church members, Roman Catholics and non-Christians came together to worship, after many had enjoyed a communal breakfast. We sang joyful traditional and modern hymns and listened to Bishop Libby preach. It was Mothering Sunday and the gospel reading was the beautiful Magnificat of Mary. Bishop Libby spoke of Mary being at the margins of society in many ways, a very young, uneducated, unmarried girl from a small, remote village. Yet God chose her to be the mother of His Son, our Saviour. She told us that we should look to the periphery of society for people to help and care for. She spoke of maternal characteristics, exhibited by both men and women, who nurture and protect, who support and aid the needy, the poor, the sick and the outcasts following the example of Jesus. It was an inspirational talk, delivered in a straightforward, humble and unambiguous manner, leaving us all in no doubt about how we, as Christians, must use our skills, talents and resources.
There were numerous social events and thought-provoking experiences. St Paul’s Prayer Spaces were a source of delight and excitement for the parties of Grange Primary School children who visited on Thursday, whilst adults reflected quietly on the other days. Evening events included a ‘grill a bishop’ session, youth clubs, a reception for the representatives of local organisations at the Netherwood Hotel, a curry meal and Italian food and entertainment, all well attended, enjoyed and appreciated. On Saturday there was a Repair café, and a 5-mile walk along the Cistercian Way. Schools across the peninsula were visited, with reactions to Bishop Libby such as ‘wow’ and ‘she’s cool’. Bridge House, Boarbank and Cartmel Grange were included in the itinerary. Some residents were overwhelmed by a Bishop tenderly holding their hands whilst other had no idea who Bishop Libby was but welcomed a smiling face and friendly comment.
Yes, the eighteen months of prayerful and practical preparation were at times daunting and the four days were busy, physically and mentally demanding, but how spiritually uplifting they proved. As the team left on Sunday they articulated their heartfelt thanks to everyone who had been involved in any way and expressed how their own Christian experiences had been enriched by being with us. So there are memories to cherish for us all and much to reflect upon in the coming weeks and months as we seek to build on the Moving Mountains experiences in our community.
Thank you everyone who worked tirelessly and contributed so much to ensuring the days were a great success for us all. Much was given but how much more was received !
Thanks be to God.