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Archbishop of York to visit Markington church on William Wilberforce Day

Wednesday 20th July 2016

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is to visit a North Yorkshire village church at the end of July to mark it historical links to the English leader of the anti-slave trade movement William Wilberforce.

Dr Sentamu will preach and preside at a Celebration Communion Service at St Michael's in Markington, between Harrogate and Ripon, a church which was commissioned to be built by Willberforce's son. The historic Wilberforce property, Markington Hall, is still in the family, and home to William's descendants.

The service, at 10.45am on Sunday, July 31, comes on the day that the Church of England remembers William Wilberforce and his work in the abolition of slavery. The celebrations will also include a picnic in the grounds of 14th century Markington Hall.  The Hall will also host a display of rarely-seen artefacts relating to and owned by William Wilberforce, while Markington Primary School will present a Wilberforce display throughout the weekend.

Archbishop Sentamu  said, “William Wilberforce was one of a team of companions who worked together to further the cause  - it took Wilberforce, and his companions,18 years of continuous parliamentary activity before they saw results. Wilberforce’s deep trust in Christ, persistence, courage and determination to transform the lives of many is a wonderful example that should inspire us all today to make a difference”.

The Revd Paul Harford, vicar of Markington expressed delight that the Archbishop is attending and said: “The message we want to convey in our celebration is that the Christian faith isn't just an abstract theory, but something that has had a fundamental impact for good on our culture and society time and time again.  Jesus Christ still challenges us to confront the injustices of our society, and work with Him to bring good news to the poor, let the oppressed go free, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.  Reflecting on that, the Archbishop sprang to mind - I have always had great respect and admiration for the way his faith is so apparent in all he does.”

Paul added, “Our service is part of helping the village celebrate its heritage, and also tell again the fantastic story of how Wilberforce’s Christian faith changed our country's history – all are welcome to join us”.


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