Over 500 events across the County, an estimated 25,000 people attending events, 33 senior church leaders and their teams from four denominations, tired but excited and hugely encouraged church members – all this was and is Moving Mountains : God loves you more than you will ever know.
Moving Mountains was launched on Thursday lunchtime at Penrith Auction Mart with a short service attended by five national church leaders: the Archbishop of York (the Most Revd John Sentamu), the President of the Methodist Conference (the Revd Loraine Mellor), the Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly (Alan Yates), the Vice President of the Methodist Conference (Jill Baker), the North West Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army (Major Drew McCombe). Then the 33 teams set off with their hosts to local churches across the County.
Each evening there were events ranging from talks given by people like Warren Furman (formerly Ace of Gladiators), Christian Illusionist Todd Alexander, and a Strong Man act, to pub quizzes and dialect presentations, ceilidhs and youth events.
On the Friday during the daytime many of the teams went into schools – about 90 in total – for Collective Worship, Open the Book (dramatic presentations of Bible stories), and Question and Answer sessions with Bishops.
First thing Saturday morning there were several breakfast events for men. Later in the day saw the teams in town and village centres handing out bulbs as gifts for Mothering Sunday, doing face painting, giving free Barbequed beef-burgers and hotdogs, offering Christian Maranatha Yoga sessions and steam train rides, Bookbinding, Prayer Couches, and litter picks and guided walks.
Across the weekend there were several flower shows and art and photographic exhibitions. On Sunday there were special services for Mothering Sunday; and then there was Cumbria’s biggest ever Messy Church at Rheged, attended by more than 1500 adults and children.
The Archbishop of York, who sparked the idea for Moving Mountains with his initiatives to take the Bishops from the north of England to each other’s Dioceses, said, “This mission has been fantabulous. It has been really encouraging with lots of opportunities and many people making a response to God. There is a really good County vision here: God for All: that everyone in Cumbria should know more of God and of God’s purpose for their lives.”
Sarah Moore, Area President Cumbria Area of the North Western Synod of the United Reformed Church, said, “People have been hugely impressed and amazed by the way all the different Christian denominations are working together, and by the way institutions like schools have welcomed senior church leaders with open arms.”
Richard Teal, Chair of Cumbria Methodist District, said, “One of the really encouraging things was the number of people not normally linked to church who came along and went away with something positive.”
Bishop James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, said, “Right across the county there has been a wonderful buzz with people saying how excited they have been. But it’s what happens next which will matter even more. And although local churches will be drawing breath as they get ready for Easter, I know that they are also thinking what they will do next to build on this success.”
One event typifies the whole movement of Moving Mountains. In Orton, they ran an event called Lost and Found: 50 small clay figures of people were hidden all over the village. The children searched for them, during the Saturday Orton Farmers’ Market and when they found them took photographs of the figures in various posed locations. The children and their parents brought every single figure to Church on the Sunday morning, and during the service they were told the parable of the Lost Sheep where Jesus describes a shepherd losing one of his flock of a hundred sheep and leaving the ninety-nine to go and search for it and bring it home rejoicing. Fran Parkinson, who helped organise the event, said, “It proves that people are not disconnected from God, and the weekend opened new opportunities for the Church to meet them where they are.”
All this is Moving Mountains : God loves you more than you will ever know
See more at Diocese of Carlisle website