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Churches challenged to saddle up for Le Tour

Churches across Yorkshire have been challenged to make the most of a unique sporting opportunity. The Tour De France is the biggest annual sporting event in the world, and in July 2014 it’s going to be starting in Leeds and spending the weekend in Yorkshire.

Tour de franceThis week there was standing room only in a Harrogate church as church representatives from all over Yorkshire heard a presentation from “Welcome to Yorkshire” and the Bishop of Knaresborough, Rt Revd James Bell, encouraging congregations to welcome Le Tour to Yorkshire with imaginative events, creative mission activities and a Christian hospitality.

The first stage of the 2014 Tour de France, “Le Grand Depart”, begins in Leeds on Saturday July 5th. The day’s riding pases through Ilkley and Skipton, then into the Yorkshire Dales before heading through Ripon to the sprint finish in Harrogate. Stage Two the following day will begin in York and go through Knaresborough, Keighley, Hebden Bridge and Huddersfield before finishing in Sheffield.

Le Tour is far more than a cycle race, it’s a cultural event accompanied by a carnival procession up to eight miles long. It attracts people of all ages who will typically spend six hours by the road side. It also attracts massive media attention with eight helicopters filming at any given time. This presents churches with the challenges of road closures and local disruption, but presents enormous possibilities for reaching out to people.

The meeting in Harrogate started sharing ideas of how to make the most of Le Tour. Suggestions on the night ranged from opening of toilet facilities to cycling themed exhibitions.

Two Baptist churches in Huddersfield which are directly on Le Tour route were represented. Revd Wayne Clarke of new North Road Baptist Church said, “This is an opportunity not to be missed to reach out to people in mission and in the love of Jesus.” Revd Brian Davison of Lockwood Baptist Church said he was challenged to make use of their building which was an ideal vantage point to watch the race and the surrounding parade.

More information about church involvement in Le Tour can be found at riponleeds.anglican.org/letour.html
Pic credit: Tom Curtis/FreeDigitalphotos.net
Wayne Clarke, 02/10/2013
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