The event which aimed to revive the spiritual heart of Wigan was held in the spacious outdoor setting of Alexandra Park. As the sun shone down, the community of churches in Wigan came together to pledge a renewed commitment to their Christian Faith.
It was this collaboration between the church communities that made the event such a success. All normal church services in Wigan were suspended for the day to allow the whole community to celebrate on mass in a wonderful display of togetherness.
Bishop Paul attended the event, coming straight from the live broadcast of the Pentecost service from Liverpool Cathedral that morning. He addressed the crowds in Wigan delivering a sermon with this message at its core: “Here in Wigan today the Holy Spirit is moving through the town in a sense of Peace and Reconciliation… We must reform and create a more missionary and merciful church that gets its hands dirty as it seeks out the poor and oppressed. We must reinvigorate the church in a world marked by indifference, secularization and vast inequalities.”
Jean Hensey-Reynard, a member of the Transforming Wigan revival and a Server and lifelong member of St John the Baptist, New Springs said of the ‘Breakout Communion’ activity led by Bishop Paul in the main tent “This was great to witness as people just found the nearest pair of leaders to distribute the bread and wine and did not go to their own ministers to receive it, Here Bishop Paul quoted from the famous Methodist minister John Wesley who said; “The whole world is my parish……” this was important for us to remember today as we were not meeting in our own churches but out in the open air…the Spirit moving as One.”
Inclusivity was key and as such there were many different types of activities held throughout the day, designed to appeal to all. Musical celebrations, inspirational ‘spirit stories’ different types of prayer opportunities and many family activities meant there was plenty of interest for all.
Margaret Sherwin, the soon to be departing Area Dean said: “It was an absolute joy walking into the park, seeing so many Christians, of all traditions, gathered together instead of being a smaller number in our individual churches.”
Revd. Tim Montgomery, Director of Mission, Speaking of the day overall “ It seems to have been one of the best things that people have had a chance to experience. Seeing the Breakout Communions and the way they have all worked together has been fantastic. This is a fabulous day for Wigan and one we can build on. All of us together in one place is a good sign of the revival”.
Archdeacon Jennifer said “It has been spectacular. For the first time all of the churches coming together outside their normal buildings has been an amazing Christian celebration of the Spirit of God working together”.
Bishop Cyril added: “It has been lovely; very encouraging. Thousands of people coming to be part of ONE church rather than staying indoors in smaller numbers. We like that very much.”
What did the people of Wigan think?
What did the people of Wigan think?
“Really great. What the church is doing in Wigan is very special. It is important to be MISSIONAL and the more events like this, then we will be all the better for them.” Mark Orrell (Shevington)
”It is important for me to let people know the true life stories (like what happened to me) so that I can act as an evangelist. I want people never to give up on themselves (particularly young people who have not known Love and Guidance). I hope that, with others, here in Wigan through the revival of the church, we can be the ones to help a person on their own journey of faith.” Amelia Haigh, 18 who shared her ‘Spirit Story’ on the day.
“The Soul in the Park event has drawn different denominations of Christians together in a Spirit of Fellowship. A fantastic opportunity for spiritual growth for the whole town.” Cyril and Mary Hayward, Gidlow Methodist Church.
How successful has it really been? This can be summed up in the words of a small child at the Cup- Cake stall…….”Is it all on again tomorrow?”