A parishioner of Blessed William Richardson Catholic Church, Kiveton Park, shares with the Hallam News an experience of an Ecumenical Lenten Couse.

  Working effectively in mission in our communities, encouraging one another in our Gospel work for the Kingdom – Wales Parish Church, Wales Methodist Church, Harthill Church of England, Blessed William Richardson Catholic Church, Kiveton Park and Thorpe Salvin Church of England.

  WHAT a blessed time we had when five local churches joined together in the first week of Lent!  This first Lenten Ecumenical session took place at Blessed William Richardson Church as 51 participants gathered in friendship to explore and grapple with the Beatitudes.

  This was a wonderful evening as people from all traditions chatted, laughed and listened to each other.  In areas such as Kiveton and Wales, congregations are now coming together to strengthen their witness to the local community and celebrate their ecumenical relationships.  This course offered an opportunity for local congregations to meet to share a common life, witness and mission.  Each of the different churches hosted one session providing a bespoke opportunity to truly work in partnership with other Christian churches.

  Tea and hot cross buns welcomed visitors as they arrived, and a wonderful warm atmosphere soon pervaded as new friendships were quickly established.  This first session was led by Maine Hobart and focussed on an introduction to the sessions.  The programme followed the publication ‘Life Attitudes’ and is a five-session course based on the Beatitudes.

  The opening question asked, ‘What makes you happy?’  The laughter of children, family and friends, flowers, sunshine, grandchildren and good food figured highly; even Sheffield United made the shortlist!  Two local Ministers read the Beatitudes as the group carefully and critically reflected on their true meaning.

  Frantic discussion then followed as each group was challenged to answer four questions; What strikes you most?  What puzzles you most?  What gives you most hope?  What do the Beatitudes leave you wanting to do?

  The biggest challenge of the evening was inviting each group to write a slogan that sums up the message of the Beatitudes in a snappy way.  Several suggestions were shared, and a final vote took place with the most popular being, ‘You can’t beat the Beatitudes for the right attitude for life!’

  Each of the following sessions looked at the Beatitudes as a whole and invited the groups to take an overview of the eight sayings.  Each session opened with the course prayer which was shared collaboratively.  We then specifically focused on two Beatitudes and finally there was time for summary and reflection.  A range of interactive activities and many ideas for prayer and meditation encouraged participants to actively engage in the sessions.  The group explored the meaning of the Beatitudes and soon realised how difficult it is to understand them.  They can seem to be so other-worldly and unattainable and almost impossible to practise in real life.

  This is the true church of the 21st century, small churches working in partnership to bring the word of Jesus alive through word and action.