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Elizabeth Figg

24 April 2015

Elizabeth Figg  has become administrator of her church's Facebook page


Pop-up café

THE freezers in Kildwick and its environs are slowly filling up with tasty treats for the great event happening here in early May. No, not the General Election - although we might see a better turn-out at the polling stations if food and drinks were provided. The bakers of St Andrew's are stocking up their freezers with scones and cakes ready to welcome the crowds who are likely to watch the Tour de Yorkshire tear through Kildwick on the afternoon of 3 May.

I confess I was not hugely thrilled by the Tour de France last year, feeling decidedly "Bah, humbug" about all the road closures and the blanket coverage by the media. I am a little more excited, however, by the prospect of the Tour de Yorkshire coming through Kildwick.

The cyclists - including Sir Bradley Wiggins - will sweep up Main Street towards the church; make a sharp right-turn at the foot of the church steps; then continue to climb up Priest Bank Road, over the canal, and on to the next village. I suspect that it will all be over very quickly, but we are hoping to make more of the occasion for the visitors.

As a church, we usually serve Sunday-afternoon tea and scones in our parish rooms from May to September, and have a regular clientele of locals, hikers, bargees from the canal, and tourists who are enjoying the beauty of the area. Given that the church green will be an excellent place from which to watch the race, we are planning to move our "café" out there for 3 May - Yorkshire weather permitting.

Good-news tweet

IT HAS been a year since we set up the church Twitter account, partly because we felt it was about time we tried it, but also to advertise a weekend seminar by the biblical scholar, author, and past president of the Society for Old Testament Study, Dr Margaret Barker.

I enjoyed meeting Margaret last year, and am really looking forward to her stay next weekend, when she will be helping us to explore Revelation. Given that she is a highly regarded speaker, who was made a Doctor of Divinity by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, we are fortunate that she made even one visit to us, let alone agree to come back.

As one parishioner said, with typical Yorkshire understatement: "For a village church in rural north Yorkshire, we don't do badly for visiting speakers, do we?" 

Picture this

THE church now has a Facebook page also, and we have found the whole social-media experience interesting. We have long since stopped trying to work out why people "follow" and "unfollow" us on Twitter: we just tweet, and let what happens happen.

As an administrator for our Facebook page, I can see how much interest each of our posts generates; it seems that a picture of the church or a gravestone is more likely to hit the 300-views mark than any of the more meaty spiritual posts, but at least people are visiting the page, and we hope that, if nothing else, they will feel involved in everything we do. 

Midnight ramblers

ONE picture that caused a Facebook stir recently was of my husband, smiling at the camera and holding up a certificate. I took the picture just before 9 a.m. on Easter Monday, outside the YMCA in Halifax, shortly after Team Figg had completed the 50th annual Halifax Long March.

The Long March raises money for Christian Aid, and is always held on Easter night. Normally, it comprises a 26.2-mile hike around the hilly roads of Calderdale, but, because this year marked its 50th anniversary, the organisers decided to return to what had been the original distance, 30 miles.

Now, 3.8 extra miles might not seem a lot, but after a full day of Easter services, culminating in a Songs of Praise evening sing-a-long, Team Figg definitely felt the difference. What was no different, though, was the excellent organisation of the whole event: at 11.30 p.m., the walkers set out from the Halifax YMCA without maps, trusting themselves to the volunteer marshals along the way, who cheerfully pointed them in the right direction, rescued anyone who could walk no further, and raised flagging spirits with their enthusiasm.

There were rest stops along the way, in churches and church halls, where more volunteers dispensed hot drinks, food, and encouragement. I'm sure that Team Figg is not alone in appreciating all the helpers without whom the Long March could not happen.

Interested parties

I HAD been going to ignore the other great event happening in May, but, as the mother of three young men who will all be voting in their first General Election, I have something to ask politicians: Can you please make your election campaigns more about how good your policies are, and less about how bad you deem everybody else's to be?

Can we please have more detail about your plans, and less about your views on the personal weaknesses of other politicians? Can we please have more substance and less rhetoric? Finally, please can you make an effort to answer the question you've been asked, and not the one for which you've prepared an answer? Thank you.

Elizabeth Figg is a former contributor to The Sign. Her husband is the Vicar of Kildwick, near Keighley.

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