Archive for the ‘Journey update’ Category

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



#YouAreLOVED! sending out the message

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Once our new LOVED! window had gone up, we were able to turn our attention to part two of our #YouAreLOVED! activities for this year…

loved 16 card

Together our pray-ers were able to name almost 100 organisations and businesses who make Ilkley a more loving place to live in that they wanted to nominate to receive one of our specially designed ‘you are LOVED!’ cards.

Since then, we’ve been praying for all these organisations, giving thanks for them and then a small team of us have been writing messages to the teams at each place.

It’s been another labour of love – and full of encouragement and thanksgiving too – as we’ve realised just how many people in our town go above and beyond.

It’s great to take the time and trouble to tell them about the difference they make, and also to let them know just why we place such a high price on love in action.

The message inside each card we’re posting today is completely unique to the people receiving it, but the message on the back reads the same. Here is what it says:

This card has been specially designed, printed and written for you by the Sanctuary’s cross-church praying community to thank you for making Ilkley a more loving place to live in. And to celebrate God’s love – shown through Jesus – for everyone in our town. You are LOVED! Today and every day.

We’re praying the cards will prove to be a huge blessing to everyone who receives one and that they will truly know and believe that they are indeed loved – by God and by us!

loved 16 list cards and envelopes

loved 16 ready to post

meet Barbara and Kevin Macnish

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Barbara and Kevin Macnish have been highly treasured members of the Sanctuary’s Management Group for several months now, and involved with the project considerably before this through prayer and creative contributions. They have made an enormous difference already, so we thought it was high time our virtual community got to meet them too!

Barbara and Kevin MacnishKevin Macnish, PhD is a Teaching Fellow and Consultant in Applied Ethics at the University of Leeds.

He has worked with the European Commission and several UK parliamentary committees, and has been interviewed on national television and radio in relation to his research.

He has also been a civil servant in the UK and the US, and helped to start a church in Florence which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Kevin has degrees in Philosophy, International Relations, and Theology.

Kevin is thrilled to be able to offer his experience and skills to help develop some of the thinking and ideas that underpin the Sanctuary.

Barbara is married to Kevin and comes to the Sanctuary from a visual and creative arts background.

She is currently a team development coach with the business she founded – Triquester Teams – and loves working with teams and individuals to develop their environments for maximum growth and productivity.

Before this she has been a middle school Art and English teacher in inner city Baltimore; a picture framer; the Office Manager for the executive team at World Relief; and a church planter in Florence, Italy.

She especially loves her involvement with creative projects at the Sanctuary such as regularly contributing original artwork to outreach projects like the window and undertaking creative writing for the Sanctuary’s outward focused worship resource library.

Barbara and Kevin have two human children and a third that’s rather hairier!

To find out more about the rest of the team involved with running the Sanctuary, visit our who we are page.

our songs project – exciting news

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

It’s almost exactly a year since we told you about our vision for the songs project. And now here we are, starting 2016 by putting the final touches to a brand new studio version of Healer of Nations (which will be published on our songs page in the next few days.) And this is exciting because it is the last song on our list before we are ready to release our first album: Songs from the Sanctuary – Moving with his heart.


We’ll be regularly sharing news on this blog in the next couple months about how the release of the album – which will be available as a CD and full album digital download (as well as through continuing individual track downloads on our own site) – is coming together. So watch this space for more information about firm timescales soon.

But we didn’t want to wait to share our excitement at reaching this milestone with you all!

One of our community’s artists – Barbara Macnish – has designed and created a stunning album cover which we’re keeping under wraps for now to surprise you with nearer the release date… but it was inspired by a picture of the songs received in prayer and beautifully brings to life the heart and vision behind them.

Our desire with the songs project – and the album release element of it – was to invest a bit more in some of the key outward focused songs to help them inspire and challenge even more people. We want to keep sending out the call to worship in a way that reflects the depth and breadth of who God is, and the heart he has for each 1 in 7 billion – especially the poor, the lost and the broken.

Our vision for these worship songs remains the same – we want to give them all away. And the album is no exception to this.

Our prayer has been that through investing enough resources and time into higher level production and by creating an album which means we can give the songs away through wider distribution channels than just our own site, we can bless even more of the church.

Please do pray for us as we put in all the strategic, practical, technical and behind the scenes work necessary to get these finished songs out in an album format.

And please do thank God for our producer, everyone who gave funds so the songs could be released in this way but still given away, and everyone else who has worked – and is working – so hard to help these songs fly.



He is on the move: Happy Christ-with-us

Monday, December 21st, 2015

It used to be… Always Winter and Never Christmas…

Narnia window - best door shot
The snow scene that greets Lucy and the other children when they come through the wardrobe doors into Narnia is more than just a beautiful setting for a story…

In Narnia, under the reign of the self-appointed evil Queen Jardis – otherwise known as the White Witch – it is always winter but never Christmas.

Narnia really is in the bleak midwinter – her ground is literally hard as iron… no new life can grow. Creatures are turned to stone. And fear blankets the whole country.

Snow is beautiful, but endless winter spells death – and in this story it acts as a picture of evil’s dreadful, strangling grip; of a world under the wrong rule.

…But now: Spring is coming because Aslan is on the move!

Did you know that C.S. Lewis deliberately wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an allegory? In it Aslan represents Jesus… When he comes to Narnia – when he is “on the move” – everything starts to change. The ice starts to thaw and evil begins to lose its grip.

Life bursts forth – spring starts to blossom… everything begins to be restored. And we start to know the Witch is losing for sure, because Christmas comes…

Christmas – Christ with us: Jesus with us: God with us – or in Narnia… Aslan with us.

2,000 years ago, Jesus moving – God coming to be with us in our world (with all its wintery brokenness) was the start of a spring of restoration dawning… the start of the whole world’s story changing forever.

We all know more chapters follow this one – in Narnia and in our world – but Advent is all about celebrating the start of the thaw… and looking forward to the day when winter can never come again.

This Christmas…

…it would be possible to feel overwhelmed by just how much winter the headlines testify to being left around us.

But we must remember Isaiah’s words. There is only one government that will never stop increasing – only one power that will last. And that is Jesus’.

And he is on the move – he is always on the move. The evidence is always all around us if we look with faith-opened eyes and Spirit-softened hearts.

So, this Christmas, take time to remember just how much he is transforming.

In the last few weeks alone, Myanmar has seen an extraordinary breakthrough with a new government, the last Ebola patient was discharged in Guinea and extraordinary beauty has come from ashes in Paris.

Every time we used our daily prayer for COP21 during the International Climate Talks, we connected once again with the sense we had first had in the prayer time that inspired its creation – that these would be the talks to come of age. And we meant it every time we gave thanks for the bravery of this city in continuing to host the talks after all it had been through, and of the world leaders who overcame fear to come.

This 21st round of Climate Talks had more prayer surrounding it than any of the others. It was time. And on Saturday night, a breakthrough agreement was reached which not only went further in some areas than even the campaigning organisations had asked for, but which also built in the views of poorer countries like never before.

As many of our partner organisations have already said, the agreement is far from perfect – and it is a step rather than an arrival. But it is a triumph – in and of itself, and also because it is a victory for hope. It reminds us that transformation can come, and is coming, and really will come to every broken situation and seemingly impossible challenge – in his perfect timing.

Spring always wins – the increase of his government knows no end. So this Christmas, receive his very good comfort and joy, for he is on the move among us.