Wonderful Whit Friday: Celebrations return after Covid pandemic

FLAGS and banners flew high and brass bands rang out as church Processions of Witness returned to Saddleworth’s villages for the first time in three years.

Whit Friday took place on Friday, June 10 after being cancelled for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

And the sun shone down as locals took to the streets for the popular annual event.

Churches from across the area processed into Uppermill, bringing together scores of people for the United Service at the King George V Playing Field.

The event started in the traditional way with a rousing rendition of Hail! Smiling Morn followed by hymns, prayers, a reading and blessing by the Saddleworth clergy team.

Reverend Ken McNally, Methodist Minister for Saddleworth, gave a welcome to the gathering on what was his first Whit Friday.

“It is wonderful to be with you,” he said. “On Whit Friday I believe you’ve come to expect bad weather and downpours but today we are blessed with a wonderful day.”

Reverend Canon Sharon Jones, Team Rector of the Church of England in Saddleworth, praised the love of the community during the pandemic before leading a ‘three cheers’ for Whit Friday.

She said: “It has been three long years since we were last here together and during that time we have known grief, sadness, suffering and regret and we have lost those that are dear to us.

“But we have pulled together and got through. Jesus says to love one another and it is love that has kept our community together. It is the love of family and friends that gives us strength.

“Whit is celebration of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to us. In Saddleworth, we celebrate with brass.

“Brass is about breath – when God sends the Holy Spirit he breaths on us, bringing love, life and hope.”

She added a word of thanks to Father Bernard, who is retiring, saying: “You have been an excellent colleague and everyone knows what a faithful priest you are and how much you care for us all.

“Thank you so much for all you have done for us to bring God’s love into the community.”

The event finished with the National Anthem, with music provided throughout by a band formed for the occasion, led by Seth Livingstone, and a selection of singers.

In some villages, churches processed around their local streets, with bands and walkers of all ages joining to celebrate the occasion.

  • A donation of £1,294.07 has been made to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal by the Saddleworth Whit Friday, Processions of Witness, Uppermill Cluster.

The proceeds came from the open-air service attended by eight churches to celebrate Pentecost: Saint Chad Saddleworth, Sacred Heart & Saint William, Uppermill Methodist, Ebenezer Congregational, Christ Church Friezland, Saint Anne Lydgate, Kilngreen Mission, and Holy Trinity Dobcross.

Whit Friday Walk of Witness in Greenfield (Pics: Trevor Baxter)

Whit Friday Walk of Witness in Delph (Pics: Steve Hodgkiss)

One Reply to “Wonderful Whit Friday: Celebrations return after Covid pandemic”

  1. Great stuff. Fantastic to see the bands back. A Saddleworth tradition that means a lot and is well worth preserving.

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