A letter from the bishops

As you know, the government lifted pandemic restrictions from 19 July. Whilst welcomed by many, this has also caused apprehension for many others. Emergence was always going to prove challenging as responsibility would shift from edict to local choice.

It is evident from communication I and my colleagues are getting that there is anxiety around about our current uncertainties and where responsibility lies for elements of responding to the relaxation of these pandemic restrictions. This focuses particularly where there is a dispute between those who wish to “go back to normal now” and those who are more cautious amid the ongoing risks and uncertainties ahead.

Responsibility for decisions about local arrangements will fall on the incumbent and PCC. We urge you to move slowly, step by step, being careful to love your neighbour and seek to protect the vulnerable. In particular, we urge that you continue to receive Communion as we have done for the last eighteen months while we monitor change and public health risk. It is not clear that we are on an ever-rising trajectory to ‘freedom’; people on all sides of the political divides are worried about further restrictions or lockdowns in the autumn and winter, and that will be harder to manage than taking it slowly now.

In his letter to the church in Philippi Paul urges his readers to “look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (2:4). This means possibly sacrificing our own ‘rights’ on the altar of other people’s needs.

Please consider also the particular pressures upon clergy and lay leaders at this time as they seek to do what is right and (pastorally) best for all. Uncertainty is always difficult to navigate; we need to hold together as we do it.

Your bishops and their colleagues pray for you. Your archdeacons and area deans are ready to support you in your decision making. But, in all things be patient, kind and generous as we seek to be faithful to Christ and to one another in the months ahead.

In Christ who set our pattern.

The bishops of Leeds, Kirkstall, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Ripon and Bradford

Parish Notices: 13 June 2021

Worshipping in person

In line with the Government’s plan for easing lockdown, and based on our own risk assessments, our doors are open for public worship. You must book to attend any of our services in person, and you must follow additional rules around cleaning your hands, covering your face, and maintaining distancing whilst in the church. If you want to attend a service you can either book online, or you can call us on 0113 450 8554.

We will continue streaming all our services, both during this period of limited availability and into the future. You can join us online every Sunday morning at 10.00 am, catch up any time through the week, listen to our services over the phone, or listen using our podcast.

Continue reading “Parish Notices: 13 June 2021”

Oops: Excessive buffering during the service

In this morning’s service a few people noticed that their connection was having to buffer more than usual, and that the quality of the video and audio kept fluctuating. This blog post takes a quick look at what happened, why it happened, and what we’re doing to fix it.

What happened?

The internet connection to the church wasn’t capable of sustaining the speeds needed for smooth streaming of video. This meant that people watching would see the video stutter or sometimes pause entirely.

Why did this happen?

We’re not sure. The path to get an internet connection into the church is a relatively complex one compared to what you might have at home, involving several points where things might slow down. We weren’t able to quickly identify what was wrong during the service.

What are we doing to fix it?

There are two problems we’re fixing:

Making sure we can stream services

We’re reducing the threshold at which we decide to use a backup mobile connection to stream services. It’s difficult to change our connection mid-service (although we can in an emergency), so for the time being we’ll be using our backup connection unless we’re absolutely certain our main one is behaving as expected.

Making sure the internet connection to the church is stable

We’ve put some extra monitoring in place to see if we can narrow down which bit of the chain is at fault and then investigate further, but since the problem doesn’t appear all the time it might take us a few weeks before we’re able to properly identify it.

Depending on where the problem lies the solution could be as simple as a quick configuration change, might need replacement hardware for our network, or might need us to involve our connection provider.

To all parishes in the Diocese of Leeds

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are living through challenging and extraordinary times. The church, committed to the real world and the communities in which we are set, has continued to worship and serve despite the restrictions. Given the nature of the virus, it will be some time before we emerge into something resembling ‘normality’. We have to be clear and honest about that.

Thank you for both the remarkable ways you have continued to be the church … in the world … even if the buildings had to be closed for a long time. I want to say one or two things to encourage you, building on material you might have seen on the diocesan website or had passed to you from letters I have written to the clergy.

Inhabiting the Scriptures

Lockdown and our attempts to innovate ways of worshipping together have been experienced by many as a sort of ‘exile’. In the Old Testament prophets (such as Isaiah) we see people exiled to a strange land where nothing is familiar. All that shaped their life and worship had been stripped away. They lamented the loss of their familiar life (and what this said about God and them); they tried to come to terms with the present realities; and they then began to look forward to shaping a different future.

This time in our life enables us to re-read the biblical experience afresh – so much of the Bible was written by and for people whose normality was uncertainty and fragility. This also accords with the daily experience of most Christians around the world, including those in our link dioceses in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania and Pakistan. Let’s not waste the opportunity to learn anew how to live with uncertainty, aware of our own limitations and fragility.

Being the church

The Church of England has a unique vocation in and for England: we are committed to particular places. We are called to pray for those in our parishes, to be the answer to our prayers when appropriate, to love and serve those in need, to care for the sick and to support those who mourn, and reach out with the good news of God’s grace. We have been doing all this – and will continue to do so into the future. We know we are not always strong, but God is and we trust in him … whatever comes our way.


We don’t know what the future church might look like in every place, but we do have a role in shaping it. There will be things we need to let go of and new ways of being that are being discovered or yet to be discovered. We will emerge at different paces over the coming months and care needs to be taken over how and when we open our buildings and hold onto the new forms we have learned recently. Church House is providing detailed and digested guidance at every step, but your archdeacon and area bishop are there to be consulted for any support as we move forward.

Encouragement and challenge

I mainly want to thank and encourage you. We will face big questions – nationally as well as in our diocese – about finance and buildings, threats and opportunities. But, as a diocese we are confident and well set up to face these. Indeed, we have been doing just this since our creation in April 2014; so, this isn’t a new challenge. You can be confident that we will deal with the challenges of the months ahead with confidence in God, confidence in the Gospel, confidence in our clergy and lay leaders, confidence in our unique vocation as a church to worship and serve God together.

So, be encouraged. Use the resources available to you in the diocese and parish. Pray simply and hopefully, knowing that God is never surprised.

And please be assured of the prayers of your bishops and archdeacons, the deans and area deans, our lay staff at Church House and all who are committed to you. May God bless you in all you are and do. I look forward to the time when we can be together again, physically and in person.

In Christ.

Rt Revd Nick Baines
Bishop of Leeds


In September 2017, Giles (the Director of Music here at Whitkirk) read an article by the composer Professor Philip Wilby in a Royal School of Church Music publication. In this article, Philip Wilby wrote about an event called Ripon Cathedral New Music Week, which was to take place in May 2018.

It was to be a celebration of fifty years of new music, and during the week-long event the regular services at the Cathedral were to include not only liturgical music written by established contemporary composers, but also would encourage the submission of new compositions with any successful new scores being prepared for performance and recording.

Giles and others at Ripon Cathedral for Evensong
on 13 May 2018.

Giles submitted an organ solo that he had composed called Carillon and was later delighted to be told that the assessment panel wished to include it as part of Ripon Cathedral New Music Week. Giles’s piece was chosen as the organ voluntary for a service of Choral Evensong held at the Cathedral on Sunday 13 May 2018 and as one of the pieces that were played for a Ripon Cathedral Lunchtime Concert on Thursday 17 May 2018.

Giles’ organ solo Carillon was published in November 2019 by Tim Knight Music.