We are the Diocese of Leeds in West Bowling, Bradford reveals a church with a heart for community, at the heart of its community.
It is the first in our year-long series of short films celebrating the richness and diversity of our Diocese as part of the campaign, We are the Diocese of Leeds.
St Stephen’s Bowling is an area of great need in the centre of the city. Its vicar and his wife, the Rev Jimmy Hinton and Sarah Hinton both have a heart for the poor and their church has become a hub for the local community with its Shine project which includes a weekly Craft club, a CAP Job Club, access to computers, a gardening club, wellbeing activities and a Children’s Clothing Bank. Around the church building there are football nets and spaces for local youngsters to play.
The film shows a day in the life of St Stephens. The weekly Refugee welcome group is run in partnership with Refugee Action. There are activities for children to meet with others who understand their situation, and, as well as general support, the adults can receive advice on their status and other wellbeing activities. They can also access the Children's Clothes Bank at the church. It is very popular and sometimes there are 60 or more attending.
The creative group is Creative Threads. It meets once a week and provides a supportive social group for those from the church and community - encouraging friendship as well as teaching new skills in a range of creative aspects - from sewing, painting, mosaic and even stained glass. About 20 attend each week, all ages and all cultures and faiths, run mainly by volunteer artists and it ends with having a provided lunch together. Occasional trips to exhibitions are also popular.
Both of these featured in the film are funded from grant making bodies including Reaching Communities, Henry Smith and Bradford City Challenge Foundation who support Shine.
St Stephen’s was the first church in Bradford to become a centre for Bradford Credit Union. Sarah said: “We wanted to respond to the problems and suffering caused by debt and loan sharks, so now people can come into St Stephen’s and sign up to become Credit Union members”.
Vicar, Jimmy Hinton, adds, "As the church of Christ in an area of diversity and need, we want to see God's kingdom grow. For us that means building bridges, serving the poor, coming alongside people in their need - from whatever background, faith and culture. The Shine project is the vehicle through which we do this with other partners who share the same vision for our neighbours.”
Watch out for the next film in two weeks.