As some churches across Lancashire open their doors for Sunday services for the first time in three months (5th July), many will continue to offer an online welcome. This includes the start of a monthly online church service conducted in three world languages at St Stephen's and St James' in Blackburn.
The Bishop of Blackburn, the Right Revd Julian Henderson said, “We are encouraging churches to open their doors this Sunday where they can. At the same time, online worship is continuing to open doors to many.” He welcomed this new multi lingual initiative signalling the Christian conviction that Jesus is the saviour of the world, and not just one part of it. He said, “I am delighted that the Revd Sarah Gill has moved to Blackburn and is able to lead on this important ministry”.
The Revd Sarah Siddique Gill, Vicar of St Stephen’s and St James’ Blackburn was born and brought up in Pakistan. She wants to challenge the misconception that Christianity is a western religion.
“The truth is that Christianity is a global religion,” says Sarah who came to the county in 2019. "Jesus Christ is worshipped in many different languages across the world. God is not confined to one religion or culture or ethnic group, but God is God of the universe who rules with love, mercy and care.”
Sunday’s service will be conducted in Urdu, Hindi and English and will include a hymn sung in a number of Indian languages. “It is a great joy to be part of a multi racial community like Blackburn,” says Sarah. “It also remind us all that Christianity is a universal religion.”
“The global church is rich with the living waters of Jesus. My hope is that these monthly online services, can be deep wells where people drink from God’s love in the language of their heart,” says the Rt Revd Jill Duff, the Bishop of Lancaster. “The services are not just for Lancashire but thanks to the global reach of the internet, they are for people from across our country and across our world. Because God’s love is not in lockdown.”
The service will air on the Diocese of Blackburn’s YouTube channel at 9 o’clock on Sunday 5th July and every first Sunday of the month thereafter. It will compliment services taking place for the first time since March in some of the county’s Church of England buildings. As government restrictions on the COVID-19 lockdown are eased, Sunday will also be the first day that public worship has been allowed in England since March 23rd. The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Phillip North says, “It’s lovely that churches can re-open but it won’t be ‘church’ as people know it . But it will be a day of great joy that Christians can safely gather together again to worship.”
You can watch the service here.