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Upbeat northern Anglicans

05 July 2013


IN HIS BOOK John Sentamu's Faith Stories: 20 true stories of faith changing lives today (DLT, £8.99 (£8.10); 978-0-232-52978-4), the Archbishop of York has chosen 20 Anglicans in his province who have an unusual success story to tell. There is a careful mix of male, female, ordained, lay, old, and young. Each upbeat tale, tightly written by Carmel Thomason, is prefaced by a comment from the Archbishop.

He claims that the Church has been doing the Big Society for 2000 years; and one theme is how to make small but important contributions to the greater good. Another message is that the pews need not be empty. Lee Kirkby, a youth minister, regularly fills Beverley Minster with fellow young people.

Malc Clark, a music ministry co-ordinator, is one of several contributors who speak of Christians in the workplace as often being on their own. His band is all Christian, but it is not, he insists, a Christian band, as it plays on the secular music scene.

Several people move outside church structures to take the Christian message to the alienated, by both preaching and example. "I don't always talk about my church or my faith, but I don't try to hide it either," says Izzy McDonald Booth, who receives positive reactions. Ben Norton is a priest who works one day a week in a hairdressing salon, where he lets customers talk to him about religion.

The chapter "Wrestling with God" tells the inspiring story of Sam Foster, who, at 23, was the youngest woman to become a priest. She had attended church only to please her mother, and, when being considered for ordination, hoped to be blocked by her traditionalist bishop.

The oldest person is 88-year-old Mary Butterwick, who, 30 years ago, took the greatest risk by selling her house to found a hospice. She knows that she is successful, because it now runs without her.

Leigh Hatts Editor of In SE1, a South Bank arts magazine

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