As I sit to write we are in the middle of Holy Week. This is the most holy time of the year for all Christians, as we enter the drama of Jesus passion and death on a cross, and his resurrection on Easter day. It’s the greatest story the world has ever known, and yet in this generation, so many children and adults have either forgotten or never really heard the story? That’s why it’s so important to begin the service in the Woolshop Shopping Centre on Palm Sunday, leaving the security of the Minster behind, and daring to step out into the world which Christ came to save and redeem, and to proclaim our Christian faith afresh in the public square.

In recent years Religious Education has been taken out of the Baccalaureate and demoted as a subject for which Schools will not be judged. This means that many schools no longer have RE on the curriculum and thousands of young people are growing up with no knowledge of Christianity or of Church. Then we wonder why in our nation we find issues associated with social cohesion and fear and prejudice across West Yorkshire in particular. In these days of Brexit, we need a vision for our nation that preserves what Great Britain had always stood for: tolerance, hospitality, social justice, fairness, Christian values that influence our moral code and our laws. Never has there been a time when the importance of Religious Education was needed, as we try to create a safe and tolerant society for our old age and for our children’s future?

Here in the Minster we are committed to promoting Christianity through our Education Department. Last term alone some 860 children came through our doors, 520 of whom were learning about both Christianity and Islam. Benedict taught his communities not only to be places of hospitality, but also place of teaching and learning. The Christian journey is all about Life Long Learning, learning what it means to be human, learning more about God, and for us to become more and more Christlike in our thoughts and actions.

During Lent we had a Stewardship Campaign, the end of which was somewhat knocked off course by the effects of snow and the terrible weather. If you haven’t returned your Response forms, then please do so urgently, so that we can coordinate your help in Volunteering and your generous financial giving.

This month we host a Celebratory dinner for the RAF as they mark their centenary. It’s a privilege for us to host this event, and I know many tickets have been sold. The Regimental Chapel in the Minster is a constant reminder of the Armed Forces, and the sacrifice made by men and women over the years for our freedom. There has certainly been a continued increase in visitor numbers in these last few weeks, and we need as much help as you can give in welcoming visitors to the Minster on a daily basis, and being faithful to our Benedictine foundation.

Hilary