The Archbishop of York praised the community of Mytholmroyd for letting their light shine before others in the huge communal effort to restore St Michael’s church, damaged by the Boxing Day floods of 2015.
The Archbishop, Dr John Sentamu was in the Calder Valley village to rededicate the church which has just re-opened after an 18 month restoration project.
Floods had hit the village before; but the damage this time was much worse with both primary schools affected, scores of businesses and hundreds of people forced to move out of their homes. The church was submerged in four feet of water.
In his rededication he praised the community for being the salt of the earth and making Jesus visible by their actions.
Catherine Storah, aged 10, was invited into the pulpit by the Archbishop to demonstrate with a faulty torch how sometimes rubbish gets in the way of shining our light.
“A shooting star shines brighter when it hits the earth’s atmosphere and it is the same with Christians. Our lives should make Jesus visible. Let your light shine before others and that is what you have done. Fantastic job.
“This has been a communal project; everyone from the youngest to the oldest has been involved.
“Now this building has been restored – what has happened to this building needs to happen in this Christian Community; it needs to be restored in this way,” he added.
Over 200 people packed into the church to celebrate the church’s rededication and hear the Archbishop.
They joined him as he urged them to shout (in a non Anglican way) the Lord Reigns –before he went to the font for holy water with which to bless the congregation.
At the end of the service, the Archbishop joined the community for a parish lunch in the newly restored parish rooms.
Church warden, Eric Alston, who was singled out for praise for his work with the restoration project by the Archbishop, said: “It’s been such a huge effort to get to this day; such a great community effort; no-one ever complained.
“It brings a tear to my eye,” he added.
The vicar, the Revd Cathy Reardon, said: “This is a fabulous place to live. The morning after people were already here cleaning, others came from outside the area to bring soup and hot drinks, to help with the clear up when the waters had gone down.
“But the effect on this community is enormous. When it rains hard, the flood wardens are out in force and we are all thinking: will it be the next time.
“Until the flood defences are finished in another couple of years; we all live with this threat at the back of our minds.”
Pictured here, the Revd Martin Macdonald, Area Dean for the Calder Valley Deanery, shows the Archbishop how high the River Calder rose during the Boxing Day floods.
Watch saying it loud with the Archbishop here: