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Eucharistic Festival at County's Cathedral is a great success
Blackburn Cathedral came alive for its first all-age ‘Eucharistic Festival’ at the weekend, hosted by Bishop of Burnley and current Acting Dean, Rt Rev Philip North.
Around 300 people came from across Lancashire to explore and celebrate the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Events ran on twin tracks across the day with children catered for at the Cathedral’s very first ‘Messy Church’ Eucharist while grown-ups attended their own Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Philip, followed by an address from keynote speaker Rt Rev Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester.
Bishop Philip said: “I wanted to create this opportunity for people to celebrate the Eucharist together at the County’s Anglican Cathedral, from the youngest to the oldest and from every church tradition.
“There was a lovely atmosphere of celebration; a terrific turnout and the event was everything I hoped it would be.
“My particular thanks go to Bishop Martin for being our keynote speaker and discussing the six ways* in which the Eucharist can help us to share our faith as Christians with others.”
A series of workshops also took place during the Festival, led by guest speakers including Rt Rev Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn and Rev Canon David Banbury, Leader of the Diocesan Parish Mission Support Department.
The Messy Church part of the event was a unique opportunity for children to celebrate the Eucharist in the Cathedral at the same time as their adult counterparts.
Stephen Whittaker, Director of Education for Blackburn Diocesan Board of Education said: “The Messy Church element of the Eucharistic Festival was a great way to enable children to really understand the bible stories and mystery of the Eucharist.
“Participants got to experience the main ingredients of a successful Messy Church which include games, craft and activities, a celebration service, and sharing a meal together.
“All this knowledge was then used in a creative way, with Bishop Philip guiding children and adults through the service.
“The mystery of the sacrament was explained and came alive with the children’s playing of tambourines, maracas and castanets creating a noise of celebration that echoed through the rafters of the Cathedral!”
1) Making attendance at the Eucharist something that really matters. People will move their diary to attend a funeral, so should we in getting to a Eucharist.
2) As Christians we are empowered, commissioned, required to be an apostle who extends an invitation to someone else to join in a Eucharist. You don't need training. What matters is the quality of the invitation and the confidence in the experience you are inviting someone to.
3) If you invite someone in to your home, you will put on the heating, tidy up, provide good coffee and pastries - our church homes should be like this too.
4) If the experience of worship that you provide is little different to a chat show or arcane/weird that's a bit scary, people won't return. Visitors to church will be dependent on the kindness of strangers showing them what to do, just like you would need if you walked through a High Street bookmakers for the first time.
5) We need to be confident about our faith and the Bible. This means understanding the Bible, the compendium of books, some of which are songs of worship, rules, letters, poetry. Equipping ourselves with this knowledge builds confidence to answer questions.
6) We should encourage folk to return, and when they do they find equally as good an experience - then they are likely to tell their friends.
The bread and wine are a sacred feast, the basic needs of life and provide nourishment as well as a perpetual memory of Jesus' death.