In what could well be a first, a couple from St Stephen’s Kirkstall have had a wedding blessing during Messy Church (a form of church for children and adults that involves creativity, celebration and hospitality).
As Nick and Rachel Blackburn had been married before, they had a civil ceremony (left) but also wanted a church blessing. Rachel says, “We wanted a bigger party to celebrate with our wider circle of friends and family, which includes many children, so when Stephen Kaye, our vicar, mentioned a Messy Wedding it seemed the perfect solution. We love Messy Church and enjoy being part of our local community there. It’s a great way to share Christian values with children and to encourage them to mix with people of all ages.
“The activities started at 3pm when children at Messy Church made paper flower bouquets, decorated cup cakes and wrote messages on two sashes for Nick and I to wear during the blessing. It was very moving when the children walked down the aisle in front of us clutching their paper bouquets, and we followed wearing our sashes. We sang songs that the children could join in with, and seeing them giggling while they sang to 'Jump' made my day. After the service we served hot dogs before heading to the local pub where Nick proposed to me.
“We very touched by Stephen’s and the church team’s support in making our day special. In fact it’s a continuation of Stephen’s pastoral care for us. We’ve had a very challenging year as our youngest daughter, Darcy, underwent a major operation to remove part of her right lung. She was in theatre for 8.5 hours (we aged 10 years!), and the morning after Stephen paid us a surprise visit in hospital to pray with us and tell us he had prayer groups all over Leeds doing the same thing. Such kindness will never be forgotten by Nick and I.”
The Revd Stephen Kaye says, “At Messy Church we offer a place to those who don’t (for whatever reason) connect with traditional forms of Christian worship and now we have a core group of families for whom Messy Church is their church.
"The sense of occasion at the wedding blessing was not lost but heightened by the engagement of everyone who was there – all 135 of them. Fun, laughter, mess and love - it was a fitting Godly tribute to an amazing couple.”