Services, events & news

Easter at St. Michael's

Most of you will know that Canon Barry is to be our new ‘link’ with the cathedral and we would like to extend a warm welcome to him whilst acknowledging and thanking Canon Richard for his help and support during the last three years.

At a recent meeting it was decided, regrettably, that St Michael’s will not open on Easter Day. The criteria for closing originally has not changed and we are mindful of the vulnerability of some of our congregation. We will let you know as soon as we are notified that the situation has changed. Services will be held at Ripon Cathedral during Holy Week and Easter but please note that tickets will be required for the Easter Day 10.30 Festal Eucharist and many others will be streamed. Notices are displayed on the church door and gate.

A message from Christine:- all planned giving envelopes for 2021 will be left in church when we open.

Apologies for not distributing the Lent boxes this year. Anyone who has been collecting can also leave them there.


Tuesday 18 May @1.30 pm St Michael’s Annual General Meeting will be chaired by Dean John.

March 2021

Churchyard Flowers

The first signs of spring are appearing in the churchyard.

February 2021

Canon Richard to retire

Dear Friends at St. Michael’s,

First an apology from me for not warning you and explaining to you why the Dean would be contacting you. The news of my retirement coming out of the blue like that must have come as a great surprise and I am sorry it happened that way. I suppose the main reason why I did not write this letter before now is that I was not certain that it was the right thing to do in the midst of the Covid epidemic, it felt like leaving friends in the lurch. So why am I retiring?

The main reason is that I shall be 75 in March and will have completed 50 years of ministry. In the 10 years that I have been retired I have only had one in which I did not carry out some duties, which meant I have had a very fulfilling and enjoyable, and I hope useful, active retirement. (This will be my third retirement!) I am well aware that given the age profile of St. Michael’s I am a mere youth and that those of you in your eighties, including the churchwardens, are the backbone of the church.

Speaking of churchwardens you will never know just how much work Iris, supported by Peter, does behind the scenes. There is an immense amount of administration that comes from the Diocesan Office in Leeds that has to be dealt with and managed. There are training days to be negotiated regarding Health and Safety, Safeguarding of vulnerable people, endless forms to fill in and returns to be made. For the clergy there are new regulations regarding Church Weddings, a new Clergy Disciplinary Measure, training days on Mission, the Live Streaming of Services, Fund raising – the list is endless. If I am honest I don’t have the enthusiasm or energy to re-learn a ministry that I have been carrying out for the last 50 years. As the old Beatles’ song goes – ‘I belong to yesterday’.

So what happens now? I am still down to celebrate Easter with you – that is Covid permitting and all vaccinations done and then Canon Barry will take over. If we cannot meet at Easter, then when we are able to meet, I shall be back to worship with you. I have asked if I might continue to take services at Littlethorpe and I shall most likely cover the holiday periods and fill in when required – so it is not a final goodbye!

I read recently that at a certain age, one should return to the ‘footpaths of one’s youth.’ My return to St. Michael’s has been such a return and I thank God and you all for it and can say with sincerity it has been for me a true ‘home-coming’.

I shall always be your friend,


January 2021

St. Michael's to close until further notice

Dear Everyone,

Sincere wishes for a peaceful and healthy New Year.

After consulting with Canon Richard, Peter and I spoke to most members of the committee about closing our church until further notice. The reasons being;

  • We have now moved into Tier 3 and all the severe restrictions that that involves regarding the new covid variant.

  • We are an elderly, vulnerable congregation and many people have expressed their concern and are anxious.

  • The church is very small, has only one door and ‘mingling’ is almost impossible to prevent.

Dean John supports this decision. We are sure that he would wish us to point out that services at the cathedral are going ahead and also the ‘streamed’ services.

Please take care, stay safe and, if possible, keep in touch with our ‘St Michael’s Family’, especially the isolated ones. We will keep you updated.


January 2021

Christmas at St. Michael's

Canon Richard conducted the service on Christmas Day which was well attended. On Sunday 27th, it was Michelle Dearlove who was in charge. She did a Blue Peter sermon with a bag of Christingle props (orange, cocktail sticks, candle, sweets and red ribbon). 500 children in the Bedale Benefice, which she helps with, had each received a Christingle carrier bag containing all of the above which she used to demonstrate the significance of Christingle.

December 2020

Carol Singing

A good crowd turned out (socially distanced of course) for carol singing in St. Michael's churchyard on a cold but dry night. Skelldale Singers led the singing, performing a few carols on their own along with plenty for everyone to join in with. There were even mince pies afterwards.

December 2020

Canon Richard's Christmas Letter

‘O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray:

Cast out our sin, and enter in; be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.’

Dear friends at St.Michael’s and a special greeting to those of you still unable to worship with us in these so uncertain times. You are not forgotten and indeed are remembered each Sunday when we gather at Littlethorpe in the hope that once again you may join with us in our worship. You will be very much in our prayers on Christmas Day.

It is going to be very different this year from what usually happens. We are still not allowed to sing inside the church, so this year we will sing our carols in the churchyard, outside God’s house, led by the Skelldale Singers on Tuesday 22nd at 7.00pm. Christmas Day we shall meet inside at 10.30am for a celebration of Holy Communion, masks must be worn and social distancing observed – sadly again without singing but with organ music.

Like everyone this year we are having to adjust as all our hoped for plans and arrangements are swept aside by Covid 19 and Government Advice. There has even been talk of cancelling Christmas or at least postponing it! But like the birth of any child it will happen, regardless of the circumstances, just as it did in Bethlehem all those years ago. The last thing that Joseph had planned for was a journey to Bethlehem because the Government of the day ordered a census for taxation purposes - and it got worse. Arriving in Bethlehem he discovered that all the inns were full and all the beds taken. As a last resort all he could find was an inn’s stable and there the Christ child was born. It would be some days before he could find rooms to rent in which Mary could recover before the arduous journey home.

Not going to plan, not what we hoped for is the story of that first Christmas where families found it difficult to be together because of the Census, where lives were at risk and food and shelter in short supply for many. Does that sound familiar?

From the comfort of our carol sheets all this is shielded from us – but it is there, part of the reality of human life, and the God who comes to share that life with us cannot be spared what we have to endure or enjoy.

The ancient Rabbis said that each of us should have two pockets. In one should be the message ‘I am dust and ashes’ and in the other pocket we should have written ‘For me the Universe was made’. It is easy to keep looking only in the first pocket and neglect the second!

And therein lies the message of Christmas. God is with us for the taking, not for any spiritual payment; not as reward for our good behaviour but only in the realisation of what we already are and have as gift from Him.

As my favourite carol prays ‘May the Holy Child of Bethlehem’ be born in you this Christmas bringing his glad tidings of great joy that it is for you, for you that ‘The Universe was made.’

Wishing you Joy and Peace, Richard.

13th December Service

Canon Barry had an assistant when he took the service on 13th. Lizzie is a reader and started her priesthood training last September so is under the wing of Ripon Cathedral.

Sylvia Grice

Unfortunately, Sylvia recently suffered a stroke but is comfortable. An update from her daughter Helen Mackenzie was read out at church on 13th.

I've had so many texts and phone calls asking for an update on mum that I'm going to take the easy way out and do it on Facebook. Mum was taken to Harrogate yesterday after having had what looked like a stroke. Naturally she had taught one of the ambulance crew to swim. She was then taken to the acute stroke unit at the LGI where she spent the night. I rang this morning and the nurse I spoke to had had a fairly lucid conversation with her. She has had a comfortable night (mum, not the nurse) and understands where she is and why so she's not confused about that. Seemingly she has definitely had a stroke but not a bleed which is brilliant news and the only thing that appears to be affected is her speech (and a bit of memory). They think she will probably be moved back to Harrogate this afternoon. We would prefer York if there is an option so Alison would be able to call in on her, Don too. For now we just ask for your love and prayers for our strong and beautiful mum. Quite what the people of Littlethorpe are going to do without her baking for a while is another issue!

December 2020

Back to Basics Cookery

'Back to Basics' is a charity, run by Helen Mackenzie and Sarita McDermott, which aims to educate families in how to produce nutritious meals from scratch. It was originally aimed at families with children on free school meals. Villagers and members of church have been very generous in their support of this charity and Helen and Sarita sent the following letter.

December 2020

Dear Reverend Cooper

I am hoping you might read this out during Sunday’s worship.

On behalf of our little charity, Sarita and I would like to thank the people of Littlethorpe for some incredible donations recently. This is mainly down to one woman – Glenys Gittings – who has cajoled, encouraged and badgered people to make a donation to our cause and we owe her a debt of gratitude.

We set up Back to Basics just over a year ago with a view to helping those families with children on Free School Meals so that the holidays would not be too expensive a time without that regular meal provision. The nature of our project is to educate families (not just the parents) to produce nutritious meals from scratch. To this end we provide recipe cards as well as every single ingredient, even down to a stock cube or garlic clove. There is even video support on our facebook page.

We have evolved during lockdown to providing a quality meal each weekend for those families – we are not a soup kitchen, nor the foodbank – we expect households to cook together and the feedback we are getting from the families we help has been amazing. They are loving the whole process.

With your substantial donations, Back to Basics is able to provide all the families that we have been supporting, not only with their turkey for their Christmas dinner, but all the trimmings too, including pigs in blankets, stuffing and some of Dame Sylvia’s delicious mince pies.

In much the same way my mother has been providing for the members of this parish since long before the first lockdown – pies, quiches, traybakes and fruit loaves. I realise that many of you have given to MY cause as a way of thanking mum for all she has done for others. Whatever the reason for your donation I think Glenys and Sylvia deserve a hearty round of applause (providing that is permitted in a House of Worship…?)

You might think that some people would possibly abuse our generosity but I honestly have not found this to be the case. The families I have met during my deliveries truly have nothing – in a way that is hard for any of us to fathom.

Sarita and I are so grateful for all these donations and wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a happy, and above all, healthy new year.

Kind regards,

Helen Mackenzie and Sarita McDermott

Sarita and Helen

Ella Dixon preparing vegetables to make soup

Jacob Wilson who loves to cook for his family

Goerge & Ella Dixon with their Victoria Sandwich

Dear Friends Welcome to Advent and back to St. Michael's on December 6th

‘There will be no Christmas this year,’ I overheard the lady say in Booths. I mused as I wandered on down the aisle that we were now in a society which made no connection between the birth of the Christ child in the Bethlehem manger and the family winter festivities that people feared would this year be cancelled. Looking over the Christmas cards on sale in the store I searched in vain among the snow-scenes to find an image of the stable with its star and Mary and Joseph. Not even the Cathedral Christmas card portrayed this event, instead we have the Cathedral building in the snow!

Perhaps with the pandemic still overshadowing us and restrictions placed upon us to safe-guard the lives of others we don’t feel like celebrating anything. ‘Joy to the World’ rings rather hollow where it is not experienced. Grief, sadness and loneliness is more likely the reality of so many people’s lives this winter and we need a message that speaks to that. If people find their lives to be darkened, then they need light. We talk of hope as being ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ but what if we were given a light, a torch to see us through the tunnel? Surely that would be more comforting and helpful.

Advent with its candles reminds us that we have just that – the world is not completely dark and never has been and never shall be and never can be since that first Christmas when the ‘Light of the World’ flickered into our history. It is the Church’s task to be the keepers and bearers of Light so that the world does not become a place without vision or of hope. We hold the ‘Christ-light’ every time we offer friendship and kindness to others, every good deed, every kind and hopeful word of reassurance and concern is a shaft of light.

Each time we come and worship, each time we pray, we are drawing closer to the Light so that we can be a torch for others. We shall celebrate Christmas, as we have done for the last 2,000 years and hear again the words of hope from the Gospel Reading ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’ If we believe that, then we can also trust Christ’s words:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’

On December 6th. we shall remember James Hare who sadly has died and passed into the Greater Light. His funeral was a private one, because of Covid but we shall give thanks for his life in the church he dearly loved.

Canon Richard.

December 2020

St. Michael's Remembers

Despite St. Michael's currently being closed and unable to hold its normal Remembrance Day service, it still wanted people to know that it is remembering so Iris Alderson and Christine Curtis have arranged a poppy wreath on the church gate.

November 2020

Sad Loss

The funeral of Joan Harker, who passed away on 6th September in Lister House aged 89 years, will take place at St. Michael's on Tuesday 29th September at 1p.m. Joan, who used to live in the village, was a regular member of the church congregation. She will be remembered by many as their swimming teacher at Ripon Spa Baths.

NOTE: The funeral was brought forward and took place on Friday 25th.

Joan's ashes were interred in St Michael's churchyard along with those of her husband Bill who died in April. Canon Richard took the service and did the interment. He said that Joan had come home to Littlethorpe where she spent most of her life.


St. Michael's is open

Although some people had made the conscious decision not to return to church services at the moment, there was a good turnout for the first service since lockdown. Everyone was pleased to be back but services will be very different for some time.

September 2020

Avril Mallett & Ali Anderson

Sylvia Grice

Ann Lancaster & Christin Thackray

Valerie Williams

Preparing to re-open

Preparations have been taking place to enable church to re-open tomorrow (Sunday 6th September). Signs have been put up outside reminding everyone to hand sanitise before entering the building and to observe social distancing at all times. Richard Tite has been on his knees tidying up the garden and Elizabeth has decorated the porch to welcome everyone back. The service will be taken by Canon Richard Cooper.

September 2020

Church to Re-open for Worship

Letter From Canon Richard - 19th August

Dear Friends at St. Michael’s,

At a meeting of the Church Committee this afternoon it was decided that we should open the church for worship on Sunday 6th September. Of course we will have to abide by the Government Directives and so I have attached a copy of these to this letter. It will take a little time to get used to the new ways I’m afraid, but at least we will be able to meet – although whether we shall recognise each other with face-masks on is another matter!

As the Corona Virus is very much with us and that, regardless of the precautions we are taking, there is still a risk of infection some of you may wish to wait a little longer before returning. It has to be your decision and it will be respected and understood. There is an old saying in the Church of England – ‘All may, none must’ and that is perhaps more true for today than ever. So please don’t feel pressured in any way, you will not be forgotten and we shall save your seat!

If you are returning on the 6th, then please do read carefully the attached notes so that you know what to expect and how the Service will run. It is a pity that we can’t sing and ‘social distancing’ might make coming up for Communion a little confusing but I’m sure we can work it out.

It has been a long haul but people have supported each other by keeping in touch and the church building has been well cared for by Glenys and the church-wardens and is ready for our use. We are most grateful to them. We are also grateful to the Dean and the Cathedral Clergy who will now be staffing the Services at St. Michael’s. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we are allowed to sing again and to welcome Jeremy back to the organ.

I hope this letter finds you all in good heart and not too wearied by it all.

With my prayers and good wishes,


August 2020



Face masks must be worn

Register of name taken (track and trace).

Hand sanitiser must be used on entering the church.

Social distancing to be observed.


Masks must be kept on in the building and social distancing observed.


July newsletter for St.Michael’s, Littlethorpe from Richard

My dear Friends – another month has passed and we are still living with uncertainty! Our out-door Songs of Praise, which seemed so promising, has hit the buffers of Government regulation which forbids us to sing and to assemble with more than six people - even outside.

We do know that our churches can open for public worship from this coming Sunday, 5th July providing that we keep a two metre social distancing, we do not sing and that a proper risk assessment has been carried out. Government guidance also requires the names of those attending to be recorded and kept for 21 days to assist ‘track and trace’ if that need should arise. There is a whole section regarding worshippers who are aged 70 or older ‘ who are advised, regardless of medical conditions, to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.’

This is where we have a difficulty at St.Michael’s with maintaining ‘social distancing’ in order to keep people safe and why the decision has been made to keep the church closed until September when, hopefully, the risk of infection will be greatly reduced. The Virus has not gone away and the situation is still uncertain and the Bishop in his letter to the Clergy has this to say about reopening our churches: - ‘The key point to make now is one I have made many times over the last few months: “can open” does not mean “must”. You need to pay attention to those who are afraid of coming back to congregational worship as well as those who are raring to go.’ What I am hearing from Littlethorpe at the moment is that it is better to be safe than sorry. However things can move quickly and rules also change, so when they do we shall call a meeting of the Church Council to reassess the situation in the light of reduced risk and then make plans for the reopening of our church.

I will let Bishop Nicholas have the last word: - ‘Christians are drawn by hope and not driven by fear. What we experience now is neither ultimate or the last word; time will move on and stuff will happen; however, Christian Faith is rooted not in formulae for our well being or convenience, but rather, in the person of the God, who raised Christ from the dead. In other words, our trust is in God, not in events. Anxieties about the next few weeks and months are understandable, but should not be allowed to intimidate or drive us. Hope, realism, honesty and cooperation should be our watchwords.’ Amen to that.

July 2020

What news from St.Michael’s?

As most of you will know the Government regulations regarding Covid 19 caused all places of worship to close on the 22nd March. It may be that the restrictions will be lifted at the beginning of July so that public worship may again take place. However, as the Bishop has said, closing the churches was the easy, if painful, bit. Reopening them is going to be much more complicated. If we have to maintain ‘social distancing’ at St.Michael’s then we will only be able to accommodate 15 people at a time. The lay-out of the church will make movement very difficult and almost impossible where the altar is concerned. There will also be a requirement to deep clean the church after each service.

After much discussion with our Vicar, the Dean and the churchwardens the decision has been taken not to open in July but wait until September when hopefully things should have settled down and the threat of a second ‘spike’ in the Virus is no longer likely. In the meantime, Iris and Peter our churchwardens are doing a splendid job on social media and over the telephone to ensure that our precious elderly congregation is keeping safe. I also know how people have been looking out for one another and some have even found cakes and pies on their doorsteps! Sadly because of the Government regulations and the instructions of the Bishops, visiting people in their homes is still out of the question, something I personally very much regret. But this will pass and we will return to St.Michael’s which is still being cherished and cared for even if not in use.

More hopeful news when we have something to report.

Canon Richard Cooper

June 2020

Churchyard Flowers

As church is currently closed, regular worshippers are unable to see the lovely flowers in the churchyard so here are some photos instead.

4th April 2020

An Easter remembrance from Canon Richard Cooper

These strange days of 'lock down' have brought back to me the Sundays of my childhood and youth at Littlethorpe. My mother, being Scottish and brought up as a Presbyterian, had firm views as to what was allowed on the Sabbath. Morning Church at St.Michael's, sunday roast lunch, family walk in the afternoon- usually round the canal, afternoon tea and Church again in the evening. Occasionally in the summer, distant uncles and aunts might join us for tea, otherwise we were not allowed out of the garden to play or amuse ourselves elsewhere. Complaining to my father one wet Sunday afternoon that I was bored, he looked over his paper and said "Don't worry, you'll get used to it, a lot of life is boring." So much for parenting in the 1950s! And yet he was right. Perhaps what this 'lock-down' is teaching us is that we don't have to be continually entertained, that we are capable of sitting at home or in the garden and that we are discovering that boredom, unlike the Coronavirus wont kill us. That's not to say that we won't be frustrated. But it will enable us to become more aware that Spring has sprung that new life is starting to break out and flourish. So it was then. The dullness of winter brightened by daffodil and blossom. New hymns to learn for Easter, the usual church arguments as to who would do what flower arrangement and where, the ironing of choir - surplices and the lengthening of cassocks to combat the annual growth - all added a sense of anticipation and excitement. And for those of us who, in theory, had kept a Lent without chocolate, the promise of the Easter Egg. We shall miss all that this year, the celebration of Easter in our church, but Easter will still happen, renewing the People of God with the joy of Christ's Resurrection from the dead and we shall gather again, when all this is over, to celebrate our Faith - the Faith I learned in this Village Church in the endless Sabbaths of my childhood.

Keep safe and keep well and may you know the Blessing of the Easter Song- 'Rise heart;thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise without delays, who takes thee by the hand, that thou, likewise with Him mayst rise.'

April 2020

Holy Baptism

Claire Greenhough and her partner Craig Griffin brought their daughter Amelia to St. Michael's to be baptised supported by family and friends; Canon Richard Cooper conducted the service. Godparents were Natalie Wesson, Emily and Stuart Thompson and Claire's brother Paul Lund. Claire and Craig are getting married at St. Michael's next year as Claire says it is a very special place for her.

1st March 2020

Max, Craig, Tom, Claire and Amelia with Canon Richard Cooper.

Ready for Christmas

The tree had been decorated and the stable is awaiting the arrival of Mary and Joseph. At the service, led by Michelle Dearlove, everyone was invited to hang a decoration on the tree in remembrance of someone and there were oranges to take away along with chocolate money. Ripon's mayor, Eamon Parkin, attended the service.

22nd December 2019

Santa Lucia

On Sunday 15th December, church was almost full for the annual Santa Lucia service. This year, 10 year-old Marielle Joussemet was Santa Lucia and her attendants were Ella Curtis, Tilly Jarman, Celeste Joussemet, Charlotte Perry and Rebecca Ryder. For the first time ever, a boy was part of the service when Sam Stead was the story teller reading the story of Santa Lucia before the procession. He told me he was a little bit nervous beforehand but that he really enjoyed it. For the first verse of 'Away in a Manger' the children were joined by Eva Joussemet and Jacob and Charlie Ryder. Eva and Charlie also did readings. Other readers were Avril Mallet, Christopher Orme, Margaret Lloyd-Hughes, Margaret Plunkett and Canon Richard. Wearing a Rudolph jumper, Jeremy Banyard was organist. Following the service, mulled wine and mince pies were served.

15th December 2019


St. Michael's began the countdown to Christmas on the first Sunday in Advent by lighting the first candle on the Advent ring.

5th December 2019

Samaritan's Purse Appeal

The shoe boxes for this appeal were collected from church by David (all 73 of them) which is more than double the number donated last year! Sylvia Grice wrapped the majority of them and the church made a donation for delivery as part of its charitable giving for 2019 rather than each individual who filled a box having to pay. This may be why there were so many more boxes this year but, whatever the reason, it's good to know that more children will benefit this Christmas. Thank you to everyone who took part.

18th November 2019

Remembrance Sunday

Young and old gathered in St. Michael's for the Remembrance Sunday service which was conducted by Canon Richard Cooper. The church was decorated with poppies with some ladies wearing poppy scarves. The Exhortation was read by Madeleine Staniland-Dixon.

10th November 2019

Church Organist Retires

Ken Ridley, who has been part of St. Michael's Church for over 25 years, has retired as one of its organists. At the recent harvest lunch, Iris Alderson presented Ken with a painting by Littlethorpe artist Richard Tite. Ken had been asked what he would like a painting of and he had no hesitation in saying St. Michael's; the difficult question was whether he had one of the inside or the outside. He chose an outside view.

7th October 2019

Harvest Lunch

After the harvest festival, a harvest lunch was held in the village hall for the congregation and friends of the church. The wonderful spread was produced by Sylvia Grice and her band of ladies and included a buffet main course with tea, coffee or squash followed by apple or blackberry & apple pie with cream and, finally, shortbread biscuits. It was a wonderful occasion enjoyed by everyone present. Thank you to all involved in its organisation.

7th October 2019

Harvest Festival

As always, the ladies of St. Michael's had done a wonderful job decorating the church for the harvest festival and members of the congregation, along with villagers, had been very generous with donations of fresh produce and tins which will be donated to the Salvation Army Food Bank. As usual, mice were in evidence around church hiding in every nook and cranny! The service was taken by Canon Richard.

7th October 2019

Holy Baptism

Alice Isabella Hudson was baptised at St. Michael's. 2 year-old Alice was brought for baptism by dad Steven (who used to live in Littlethorpe) and mum Holly. Alice's 7 year-old brother George was also there to support her. The service, which was conducted by Canon Michael Glanville-Smith, was attended by family and friends.

25th August 2019

New Notice Board

The church is now the proud owner of a new notice board. It was made by F. Lowley & Son and Ian Seeger-Horner did the writing.

Roly Curtis 1942 - 2019

Mothering Sunday

The Mothering Sunday service, which was taken by Canon Barry, was very well attended. The font was decorated with polyanthus and after the service all the ladies left with plants.

31st March 2019

The Prayer Shawl Ministry at St. Michael's Church

Our Prayer Shawl Ministry at St Michael’s Church in Littlethorpe began in 2012.

As often happens, good things flow from what seems at the time like disaster. I had severely broken my ankle and spent eight weeks in hospital in Harrogate and Ripon. During that time my friends in Littlethorpe and beyond were incredibly kind to me. Blessings flowed my way every day, including the day I was given the gift of a prayer shawl from friends I didn’t know from a church I didn’t know.

From that kind and loving gift from strangers I was encouraged to begin a Prayer Shawl Ministry at St Michael’s, but of course it needed the loving care and support of members of the congregation to bring it about. An appeal at a Sunday morning service for support was well received and our Prayer Shawl Knitting Circle began. Seven ladies joined the group and we began our work of knitting shawls. We met every few weeks to take our vision forward. Of course we needed other things too. Management of the venture and publicity about our work was also required.

Funding the venture was also forthcoming with donations from both the church as part of its annual charitable giving, and also from generous and kind individuals who saw value in the project.

One of the key tasks within our venture was to identify those within our community and beyond who might benefit from the gift of a prayer shawl. Roundabout and the village web site were helpful but in the end we relied greatly on word of mouth. And we still do!

The purpose of our work is to knit God’s love, care and warmth into shawls for those who we believe might need them. During the past seven years the Prayer Shawl Ministry at St Micheal’s Church has delivered 150 prayer shawls. They have been received by many in our locality, but many have also been sent far and wide of Ripon. Folk living in this country but also in Australia, Africa, America , France and Ireland and have received our shawls.

At St Michael’s Church we have on display a book of cards and letters sent to us over the years from thoughtful folk who have kindly written to thank us for their shawl. They are heartwarming messages which inspire us to continue the work of the Prayer Shawl Ministry.

If you would like to know more about St Michael’s Prayer Shawl Ministry, or you know of someone you think might enjoy receiving one of our Shawls please speak to our church wardens or indeed anyone in our knitting circle - that is Sylvia Grice, Glenys Gittings, Margaret Heywood, Ann Lancaster, Madeleine Staniland-Dixon and myself.

Judith Steele