A SADDLEWORTH village has pulled off a remarkable coup for the community’s annual Whit Friday celebrations this year.
The Most Reverend & Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, has agreed to host the service at Dobcross and walk with villagers in their procession of witness on Friday, June 9.
Paul Wooding, Chairman of Parochial Church Council at Holy Trinity Church Dobcross and a member of the Whit Friday organising committee, sent the invitation to the Archbishop.
In his letter he wrote: “Ten churches, which includes five Church of England churches, process from their respective villages.
“Each procession is accompanied by at least one brass band and the five processions join for an ecumenical service in the central village of Uppermill.
“The attendance at this open-air service can exceed 4000, but this is obviously subject to the Saddleworth weather.
“This year, Dobcross are the organising village and we would like to invite Your Grace to say a few words and prayer before the playing of the hymn tune ‘Silver Hill’ in memory of absent friends by the massed band of Dobcross Silver Band & Dobcross Youth Band.”
In response, the Archbishop wrote: “I’m delighted to accept and it certainly sounds like a wonderful occasion and a real example of Christian witness for the whole community.”
The Archbishop’s visit will start at Dobcross Band Club where he will provide a commemorative prayer ‘in memory of absent friends’ before the playing of hymn tune ‘Silver Hill’ by Dobcross Silver Band and Dobcross Youth Band.
After presiding at a short service in the village square, Archbishop Sentamu will lead the procession to Uppermill where he will make the address at the open-air, ecumenical service. All are welcome to attend.
The Archbishop will then lead the procession back to Dobcross and is to join the children for lunch at Holy Trinity School.
Mr Wooding said: “As organising procession we needed someone to follow the Reverend Duncan Rhodes who gave the address last year.
“We decided we should invite the Archbishop of York; he could only say ‘No’. Everyone is delighted he is coming.”
The Archbishop of York said: “I am looking forward to joining the traditional walk of witness which promises to be an uplifting and fulfilling day.
“I am only sorry the demands on my diary mean that I cannot stay on for the superb brass band contests which will roll out later in the day.
“I would also like to thank in advance the many volunteers who make this day possible.”