Leave.EU, an influential campaign group in the Brexit debate, has called for churches across the nation to ring bells on 1st February 2020 to mark the UK’s departure from the European Union.(1)
St Mary’s Church, Whitkirk is a vibrant and diverse parish. Many of our congregation are politically active, and within our parish are people who campaigned passionately both to leave the EU and to remain. In the 2016 Referendum the city of Leeds voted to Remain, but only by a very slim majority of 50.3% vs. 49.7% to Leave.(2) The UK’s exit from the EU is therefore a very divisive matter within our parish.
Our mission statement is to be a place “where all find a welcome and are nurtured in their journey with Christ”. We seek to ensure that all that we do is for the Glory of God and the benefit of all people. Whilst we are neutral on the matter of Brexit and respect the result of the Referendum, ringing our bells on 1st February would go against our universal welcome and be unnecessarily divisive.
We are also currently in the process of restoring our bells to full working order, and consequently parts of the ringing mechanism have been removed from site. As a result, the bells physically cannot currently be rung.
Therefore, the bells of St Mary’s Church, Whitkirk will remain silent on 1st February 2020.
— Matthew Peat, Vicar
— James Black, Churchwarden
— David Scholey, Churchwarden
|↑2||EU Referendum: Narrow Remain vote in Leeds’, BBC News 24 June 2016 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36616673)|