Archive for the ‘Journey update’ Category

we’re taking flight

Monday, July 24th, 2017

The Sanctuary’s time being based at our first physical home – 6 Church Street, Ilkley – is coming to an end, following us giving twelve months notice to leave the space this time last year. We’ll be taking flight on 31 August as another step towards creating a new base of our own and adjusting our current, public access model. And so we’re using these last few weeks of having our shop-front windows onto the A65 to begin sharing thank yous and goodbyes for the five years of generous hospitality given to us by All Saints Church…

To do this, we’ve brought together elements from two previous windows – created for Yorkshire Day 2015 and New Year 2016 – featuring the work of our two most talented artists – Alison Hodson and Barbara Macnish.

What better to say what we want to over this year’s Yorkshire Day (1 August) and as we prepare to enter another new season on the Sanctuary’s journey.

The text on the window reads:

“We’re taking flight!

We’ve loved sharing our prayers and creations with you through this space.

Thank you for having us All Saints Church! And goodbye and God bless to all our neighbours and passers by.”

It is then signed by the principal members of ‘team window’ – Jill, Liz, Alison and Barbara – on behalf of everyone at the Sanctuary.

We’re planning to work with landlords and councils going forward to make use of multiple, empty shop-fronts so this isn’t the end of our window work – but for this last of our first batch, at our first base, the main team of creatives involved all got together to celebrate the journey of the last five years and raise a toast to the glass that helped train us all in the art of communicating the gospel in beautifully transparent ways:

the little clay bird is flying far and wide!

Friday, July 7th, 2017

It’s been wonderful to see scores of copies of The Little Clay Bird flying out from our window-dispenser since we put up our final story window at 6 Church Street a couple of weeks ago. And we’re hoping this brilliant coverage in the local paper will spread the word – and the story – even further!

entering our bigger story

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

During July, we’re spending the majority of our morning worship rhythms setting our own stories – and the Sanctuary’s story – within the bigger story we live in: God’s. One of our principal tools for this, and for inspiring the reflective discussion questions and prayer foci we’re using for it, is the album  Music inspired by the story. It explores key biblical characters’ inner motivations and sacrifices of praise in songs that feel  like both unique-to-the-character dramatic monologues and worship we could all sing.

Each day, we’re taking a different track and responding to it, the wider biblical narrative it brings to life and how it speaks into our individual lives and callings, the people and situations on our heart to pray for and the season of the transition the Sanctuary is currently in as we prepare to leave our current premises next month.

We’re also creating a growing prayer installation with symbols for each story’s message on it…

We’re just two days in and it’s been so powerful, we wanted to invite you in too!

Obviously the main stimulus for this is the music and lyrics which aren’t ours to publish, but if you’d like to join us – and we highly recommend you do – order the CD/mp3 download and use a track a day yourself in prayer… exploring what each part of the larger story speaks into your own and your intercession for others’.

Again we can’t share all the details of what we’re discussing and praying in response online, but you will see some of it if you follow our twitter feed either on twitter itself, or on the feed displayed on our main website home page and this blog’s landing page – you don’t have to be on twitter to access these feeds… just use the scroll bars to move up and down.

Enjoy the story!

anchor-strong hope

Monday, May 15th, 2017

We’re thrilled to be sharing this visible, joyful representation of the anchor-strong hope we have – especially in the light of so much uncertainty in our nation surrounding Brexit and the upcoming general election, as well as the personal situations of so many individuals who will come past the Sanctuary’s base over the next few days and weeks.

Inspired by Hebrews 6:19, our under-water writing proclaims a rock solid reality to rely on:

“There is a hope so strong it’s an anchor for our restless souls…

… a constant, life-line connection to eternal, immovable Love.

It’s sure and steadfast – it can’t be broken or weakened, even when the seas get rough and the storms throw their very worst at us.

Still then, this anchor-hope holds firm and true.

His name is Jesus.”

As so often at the Sanctuary, what God reveals to us in prayer to share with others is also vital and life-giving truth to cling onto ourselves.

And right now, as the Sanctuary faces a season of transition where we move towards a new base and new ways of working, we’re glad of this reminder too!

It is Jesus who is our fixed point and home… and it is the inner sanctuary of communion with him that is our best and permanent dwelling place.

Our prayer is that many people will find hope as a result of seeing this art installation – and that all of us in the Sanctuary’s praying community (especially locally) will do the same!


sheet music back catalogue complete

Friday, October 28th, 2016

We’ve reached a significant milestone, thanks to the dedicated work of our volunteer scorer, Cherry Gilbard. Today we uploaded the sheet music for Jesu, high and holy and You are all we’re living for and as a result, every one of our back-catalogue of songs now has dots as well as chords to help you learn them with.

guitar close up

Cherry will kindly continue scoring all our future songs, one at a time as they are written, but today we just want to sit back and give her a massive round of applause for years of generous service in getting us completely up to date – as well as responding to new songs as they came up. We can now just focus on going forward.

Thank you so, so much Cherry!

simply following him

Friday, October 21st, 2016

We’ve been on pause mode from creating new resources for the last couple of weeks in order to collate our:
Annual Review for Sep 2015-Aug 2016: Simply following him


Packed with full-page colour photos, stories and testimonies of answered prayers, we can guarantee you a faith-building time as you watch our year together with God replay before you…

So put some worship music on, sit back and get ready to praise our brilliant God and increase your expectancy of what he will do next, as we carry on Simply following him.

our album is coming soon!

Monday, April 11th, 2016

We’re delighted to announce that our album Songs from the Sanctuary: Moving with his heart is now in production! And that it will soon be available to order as a CD or to download digitally. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as soon as we have a firm release date… but it will be very soon! Meanwhile, the moving with his heart page on our resourcing website is the place to keep an eye on…

TSCD_Digi Cover_HR_low res

#YouAreLOVED! the message is still going out

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

We’ve had some wonderful coverage of our #YouAreLOVED! initiative in our local paper, so we thought we’d share the online version of the story with our wider audience too. You can read the Ilkley Gazette’s take on it here. We’re excited because it means if anyone in Ilkley hasn’t heard the message yet, there’s another chance… and for those that already have? Well hearing it again, a few days after all the red hearts have come down, might not be such a bad thing either…

LOVED16 front of card image

#YouARELOVED! – Valentine reflections

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Today has been a day to pause, reflect, give thanks to God and celebrate all he has done – through our #YouARELOVED! window, cards and gifts this weekend, and through all of the Sanctuary’s work over the last five years… Here are some brief testimonies, and just a taste of our joy, at all God is doing in, among and through us:

loved 16 rose and sanctuary cropped to landscape

As we look back over the last few days we are celebrating:

  • everything going so smoothly practically, being so led by and soaked in prayer, and there being such a sense of love and joy in all the preparations and in our team – especially, ironically in the seven of us who set our alarms for 5:30AM to go love bombing with the roses yesterday morning!
  • being able to source Fairtrade roses from Marks and Spencer so that no one in our supply chain was exploited in order for people here to receive the love we so wanted to freely give.
  • realising how special it is to find you can easily think of 100 organisations and businesses who go the extra mile to care… all in one small town. And being very thankful to live somewhere where love and trust are truly growing.
  • reaching thousands of people who live and/or work immediately around us with such an important message on a day that touches a real point of need through the combined activities of footfall and drivers passing our windows, 100 teams at caring organisations or especially kind businesses around town receiving cards, 100 individuals receiving a white rose and thousands more seeing, and passing on, communications on social media.
  • inspiring quite a number of individuals and churches elsewhere in the country to start thinking about similar activities they could do to reach out in a similar way.
  • going out and about around town and being beautifully surprised to see quite a number of our cards again because they have been proudly and publically displayed in the shops and public services who received them!
  • receiving quite a lot of thank you tweets from card recipients too… including some where people were clearly very touched. One person even said it had made their day and they had shown it to all their customers…
  • …and being amazed at the level of interaction from people on social media (including our highest ever retweet number) around the rose giveaway, with people from all sorts of different backgrounds being touched by the idea.
  • reaching and encouraging lots of people all over the country who also desperately needed to hear the #YouAreLOVED! message by sharing our activities and pictures online and on social media.
  • gaining some really helpful insights and ideas for similar, future activities.
  • hearing the beginnings of answered prayers in stories that connect it all together, all around town in an extraordinarily beautiful way, like this one:

Today we met a lady for the first time who we had heard about previously because one of our other pray-ers had met her at the church next door during our Christmas holidays…

she had gone in there for the first time because she had seen our Narnia window and it was very significant to her because her husband (who only very recently passed away) had loved it and recommended it to her, and she had been so struck by the character of Aslan.

Dial forward to this Valentine’s this year, when she was obviously feeling the loneliness of bereavement, went back to the church and was prayed for to receive a confirmation of God’s love for her…

…she also got permission to take some of the petals that had been used in a symbolic act of prayer away with her and so flowers were on her mind…

she left there and went to a local supermarket (who had an assistant who’d received a rose) and the lady selling her the shopping said she felt led to give her a rose and handed one over.

(When she told us this, one of us even remembered placing that exact rose on the doorstep of this supermarket!)

When she read the message attached she received that confirmation that had been prayed for the previous day, and when she read about who it was from, she made the connection with the Aslan window and was amazed it had come from the same place… she shared this experience with the volunteer in one of the local charity shops who she knows this morning…

Well that lady said she had goose bumps and told the first lady she’d never believe this but she had something to show her…

…and handed her one of our cards, because we’d written individual thank you notes to all the teams of volunteers in all the charity shops in town. This lady then said she’d have to visit the Sanctuary some time!

In the next shop our first lady went into, she told the growing story again and the shopkeeper there – who we’d meant to send a card to but had somehow got missed – was really moved to hear about it.

At this point, she decided she could wait no longer, so she came and knocked on our door. But not before she’d read that message from God a third time in our window in massive letters – YOU ARE LOVED!

When we got chatting and heard her amazing story, we were able to provide some rather special icing on the cake… the petals she’d been given at church had been lent to the church by us – and we’d first bought them for our story window: The Blossom-Maker, another allegory with a type of Christ in it… just like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

So we gave her a copy of that story to take away along with a new, fresher rose; the goose poem she’d also seen and enjoyed in our last window because she was aware of the Celtic church using the wild goose as their symbol for the Holy Spirit; a card with our prayer rhythm times on it to share with the lady at the charity shop and a card we wrote there and then for her to take back to the shopkeeper who we’d meant to write to all along.

She was overjoyed at – and with – it all! And so were we…

But then, just as she was about to leave, the very person who’d given her the petals and prayed for her to receive a confirmation of God’s love for her at church yesterday walked through our front door returning the whole bag of petals to the Sanctuary.


All of us – Sanctuary volunteers, the heroine of our story, and the blossom-returning pray-er were a bit dumbstruck by this point!

Here at the Sanctuary, we did everything we did for Valentine’s because of listening prayer and then we had prayed and prayed again and again… for the window, for the cards, for the roses, for the people receiving them, for the people they would share with and on and on and on.

And we had especially prayed for the connections between all the related initiatives, we’d prayed for the right people to receive the roses, we’d prayed for the recipients of roses and cards to share the love, and we’d even prayed for this very lady we’d never met because we’d heard about her at Christmas.

This is just one story; one trail; one example of how God led us to do something and we sowed a seed and then he just took it and grew and multiplied weaved this incredible, blossoming story of unmissable loving pursuit all over town and all over one precious lady’s heart and interactions…

We’re thanking and praising him with so much joy.

And we’re trusting him for all the others – the ones where just he and the people involved know all the links – because we’re beautifully well out of the way of most of the special moments of connection between him and people that we just know are happening all over our town!

(Note from editor – added 18 Feb – the #YouAreLOVED! initiative has subsequently been picked up by The Ilkley Gazette on page 4 of their printed newspaper and on their website here.)

And as we look back over the last five years (as it was our birthday too yesterday!) – and especially over the last twelve months – we’re full of thanksgiving to have:

  • been led so clearly at every stage of the journey.
  • learned so much about who God is and grown so much in our relationships with him – and our understanding of his heart.
  • seen our community of pray-ers grow so much in confidence and expectancy to pray, creativity to share what God has shown us through new resources, art and creative gifts, and gentle boldness to go in his name.
  • seen our community grow in their depth of fellowship with God and each other… as well as in numbers.
  • been staggered at God’s confide-nce in us and the incredible answered prayers we have had as a result.
  • crossed the three quarters of a million mark on unique visits to our website this month.
  • witnessed month after month of web stats reporting high downloads of many resources from our 400+ strong free online resource library for outward focused worship.
  • heard from lots of different organisations, churches and individuals all over the world that our resources are making a difference to the way they pray, the way they think about justice and mission, and the way they step out for God in action.
  • developed some wonderful partnerships with like-minded organisations focusing on prayer, justice and mission.
  • reached such an exciting point with the songs project.
  • launched sparrow song.
  • seen one of our newest pray-ers come to Christ!
  • added such wonderfully fortifying new members to our five strong Management Group.
  • overcome so much fear with stepping out bravely with our art of love made known activities to reach out.
  • witnessed a discernible change in the spiritual atmosphere in our area, including a growing interest in who we are, what we’re doing and who we stand for.
  • enjoyed such wonderful ongoing support from everyone connected with the Sanctuary’s community – near and far – and from All Saints’ Ilkley who continue to make our space at 6 Church Street available to us rent free.

Well done for reaching the bottom of this avalanche of thanksgiving! To us it feels like just a taste of the joy we feel today as we look back and scratch the surface of all our brilliant God has done.

It’s with a great sense of expectancy that we wonder just exactly what might be coming in our sixth year…

#YouAreLOVED! preparing buckets of love

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

After creating our new window and sending out a hundred cards, a small team of our pray-ers have again gathered today to prepare buckets of love to take out on the streets of Ilkley tomorrow to share the message #YouAreLOVED with even more people…

loved 16 buckets of love

We’re super excited to give these beautiful living messages of love away: we’ll be gathering extra early tomorrow morning to pray together before we go out round the town centre to lay these Fairtrade roses (together with their LOVED tags and badges) on benches, doorsteps, postboxes… and anywhere else where people will see and find them.

Here are some more pics of the gifts and some of our wonderful volunteers making them.

If you’re near to Ilkley, you might want to come into town early tomorrow!

loved 16 rose

loved 16 back of rose tag

loved 16 roses in vase shot

loved 16 rose action shot

loved 16 rose assembline line 2