Syston Park Praise

The sun shone upon the people of Syston, as they came together in fellowship and prayer, during an ecumenical Songs of Praise in the Park service, recently.

A ukulele band brought an upbeat, gospel flavour to the gathering, which saw more than 70 people sit outside among the flowers in the town’s Central Park Sundial Garden.     

Revd Biddy Saunders, curate in the parishes of Syston and Barkby, welcomed everyone and led the opening prayers in a service that was sprinkled with rousing hymns, readings and reflection.    

The outdoor worship event was organised by Syston Churches Together, which is made up of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Syston Methodist Church and the Catholic Church of the Divine Infant of Prague.

Syston Churches Together meet several times a year and share in ecumenical prayer once a month, working together to reveal and share God’s love within their community.

“By bringing church outside we were demonstrating that church doesn’t have to be at 10am on a Sunday morning, in a building, and that we can all come together – people of faith, and of none,” explains Revd Biddy. “The main message is that no matter who you are or what you’re doing, God is here for you and we are a community. Everybody is welcome, anytime!”

A teenager from the Methodist church read Psalm 139, sharing the message that God was there when we were intimately made, and the Methodist minister, Revd J Daniel Yovan, gave a reflection talking about our uniqueness and unity as Christians.

The intergenerational gathering brought together people of all ages, spanning from a 12 day old baby to parishioners in their 90s. “The turn-out was really heartening,” says Revd Biddy. “People walking by stopped to take part, and there were people there from our church families, folks who come to feast days, and some we’ve never seen before, but we were overjoyed to welcome.”

Revd Biddy’s curacy in the parish began during the pandemic in July 2020. Before that, she had been a Reader in the Fosse Team.

“I felt a strong sense that God was calling me here, to hold and glorify the people of Syston and Barkby in prayer, and be with them in their time of need,” she says.       

It’s been quite the journey in faith for Biddy, who was a nurse and midwife for 37 years, before ordination. “If you had told me five years ago that I would be publically proclaiming my faith, I don’t think I would have believed it,” she says. “Lifting my arms and praising the Holy Spirit in public, and feeling safe and happy, is such a blessing when there are parts of the world where Christians cannot do that.

“I have nothing but enthusiasm for my work here, and looking around at people’s smiling faces, seeing them tap their feet and clap along to songs of praise, really made our recent outdoor service the most joyful and Holy Spirit-filled of occasions.”

First published on: 6th September 2021

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