Archive for the ‘sparrow song’ Category

new artwork for sparrow song

Friday, June 29th, 2018

We’re delighted to be able to share a sneak peak of the new artwork we’ve been developing for creative outreach ministry, sparrow song… bringing together the talents of artist Alison Helliwell-Hodson, calligrapher Hilary Kemp and graphic designer Verity Moon:

Watch this space for news and updates that will be coming soon about on sparrow song, who are in the process of re-launching with a new emphasis, post the Sanctuary’s relocation and one of their members’ maternity leave.

sharing all our loving secrets

Friday, February 9th, 2018

We’ve just published a brilliant new practical input resource on creative outreach, distilling our top ten tips for sharing God’s love in creative ways

The Sanctuary’s collective sometimes refer to ourselves as ‘accidental evangelists’ – pray-ers, worship leaders and creatives who set out to bring more of the world into the church’s worship, who also found God leading us to bring more worship into the world in some very beautiful and life-giving ways…

As a result, for several years we’ve found ourselves conducting a kind of evangelism that feels very natural to us – it’s simply been an overflow of who we are… and so it’s come out through creating art installations in windows, poetry and allegories, singing on the streets, hand-crafting gifts, hand-writing letters and cards of encouragement and using social media to proactively bless and affirm.

You can browse some of this work here.

For the most part, it’s been really well received and so we felt it was time to try and distil and share some of the lessons we’ve learned.

The result is this resource which we hope and pray will bless and empower you as you too seek to share God’s love in creative ways

Please do contact us if you want to share your stories or ask us any questions about ours.

taking flight – a sixteen month testimony

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

We love telling stories of what our brilliant God has done in, through and with us. Here’s another amazing one, or at least some of it…

giving peace away

Monday, December 12th, 2016

sparrow song had their last flight of the season on Saturday – singing Christmas wonder alongside the usual repertoire of hope-filled lyrics and heavenly harmonies. Many shoppers said how thrilled they were with this musical gift of peace… and also by the 100 Christmas tree decoration doves that we made to offer to those who heard it. Here’s a few pictures of them, together with the acrostic message we shared to explain why peace really can be given and received:


D is for please disarm our hearts and
O is for please help us overcome our differences and begin to forgive;V is for the vulnerability we know this bravery takes and brings, and
E is for the everyone peace must be born in to really fly.

S is for just one single, simple, sparrow falling,
Precious enough for God to notice and grieve;
A fraction then, compared to how he loves us, each and every one.
Rest assured then, this Christ-with-us, there is always hope.
Really, truly, this is why Jesus came; to show us that love –
Only simple, sacrificial love – always wins. And that is
Why, and how, there truly can be peace on earth.
So let it be born in each one of us again God, and let it fly!



A big thank you to sparrow song, Stephanie and Jill! Just a few hands (and voices) make light work… and can fly together beautifully to give peace away to hundreds of people!

We’re praying now that each dove that has flown home with someone will make it onto their tree and remind them again and again of our prayers and Jesus’ love and peace – given for them, and for the world he so loves.


more chances to hear our sparrows sing

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Around eighteen months ago, two members of our community – singers Anya and Liz – formed the close harmony duo: sparrow song. Their vision was to take their music, characterised by ‘heavenly harmonies and hope-filled lyrics’ into public places where its sound, and most importantly the heart behind it, could be shared freely and widely. Here’s where they’ll be singing this term:


You can find out more information on our sparrow song page – where you’ll also find a brand new ‘taster’ so you can understand just why they have been described as having ‘a sound like the smell of warm caramel’. Sit back, close your eyes, and let Anya and Liz sing you Amazing Grace by heart, and from the heart….

a lesson in sparrows

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Last month, two of our team (Fiona Schneider and Liz Baddaley) spent some time in Zermatt, Switzerland with ICS. Mountains and mission… it was a great week all round as people from many nations were touched by God’s love.  But as Liz sat eating lunch in the town square one day, she learned one thing in particular she felt everyone connected with the Sanctuary would appreciate hearing about when she got back…

sparrow 1

“Sparrows are common. Everyone knows that. They’re not on the list of must-see sights to take in anywhere you visit. But they’re special to me.

I’m an all-round animal lover and these small garden birds are no exception. They are so intricately crafted, and make such distinctive, delicate movements with their heads. And you rarely get very close to them before they fly away in fear.

84 has been my favourite psalm for years because it expresses such longing and delight to be in God’s presence, and sparrows make an appearance in it… they are described as having found a place (together with the swallows) right by God’s altar – they are valued and welcomed right in; how much more so then are we?

Jesus talks about sparrows too, saying that God loves them enough to know when even just one falls – and urging us therefore to know just how much more deeply we are loved… for we have so much more value.

So sparrows have become associated for me with our access to God’s presence and our preciousness to him – seeing them is like a promise with bones and feathers on. And this has only been increased since I formed a worship busking duo with Anya Faull called sparrow song – partly inspired by these scriptures and partly by the fact that sparrows are not song birds, so any melody they could offer would have to be a supernatural gift to them… and those who heard them.

So as I sat eating my lunch in the town square of a beautiful Alpine town, it was unsurprising that although they had none of the mountain grandeur or fresh, foreign appeal of my other surroundings, a number of sparrows coming seemingly impossibly near to me literally made my heart sing. Because after all, as I have shared, they have great value to me.

I couldn’t believe how close they came! Schooled in getting a feast of bread scraps from the array of delicious deli sandwiches being eaten by different visitors, they knew it was worth the risk to wait for food only centimetres away from my feet. And the braver ones were soon on the seat next to me, and on the back of the bench courageously edging even further towards me.

I loved feeding them the flakes from my crispy bread – and of course they came even closer still then. And stayed.

I got to watch these sparrows in a way I had never done before and it was one of the highlights of my day – and even my whole time in Switzerland. Because it delighted me to be so close to something I place such worth in…

It was special in itself, but it was also a moment of seeing with greater clarity just how much God delights when we choose to come close to him – just how much his heart rejoices to share good things with us.

But my admittedly somewhat whimsical reflections were soon interrupted by stamping and shouting.

It was coming from another bench in the park area – or more accurately from the couple who were sitting on the bench. They had some tame sparrow visitors too, but there was no delight in it for them. They saw the sparrows as inconvenient, or perhaps even as vermin.

I could tell this because their hearts betrayed themselves every time one of the tiny birds came close. Their faces were twisted into angry frustration and they stamped and shouted so that the sparrows fled.

I genuinely felt grieved in that moment. And it just struck me again, deeper than ever, that our actions towards things – and people – come out of how our hearts value them – or don’t value them.

I didn’t have to try to be nice to the sparrows – I didn’t feel I was doing them a favour or engaged in an activity that was ‘the right thing’; I was just genuinely just delighted to spend that time with them, give them a feast and see how close they would come – and all because of their deep worth to me.

It was such a clear picture of how people treat each other on the basis of how they perceive – as precious and intricately created or as an intrusion on, or distraction from, their own agenda…

And lest you think for a moment I am holding myself up as any kind of example through this lesson in sparrows, I’m still searching my heart over a strong suspicion that I would not have been half so overjoyed if my peaceful lunch-break had been disturbed by someone made in God’s own image, rather than by a few little, brown birds.”

sparrow 2



summer events programme now live

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Our new term begins with morning worship at 9am on Tuesday and we’re excited about all that’s coming up. View all our special events here and download or print the full Summer Calendar for the Sanctuary. We’re looking forward to seeing lots of you very soon!

sand window final

Our standard prayer rhythm will be running every day Monday-Friday at 9-10am, 1-1.15pm and 5-5.15pm (the Summer Calendar has details of bank holidays etc.)

And special events we’re particularly excited about this term include:

  • our response to Thy Kingdom Come – the Archbishop’s call to prayer in the lead up to Pentecost
  • our special day of prayer for the UK and Europe alongside the EU Referendum on Thursday 23 June
  • sparrow song performing multiple times, including at Ilkley’s bandstand in May and September
  • very exciting plans currently formulating to bless everyone around us for Yorkshire Day on Monday 1 August.

Find out more about all of these on our events page. Watch out for some exciting new windows coming soon too – starting with some beautiful art next week…

…plus of course there’s the small matter of our album coming out in just a couple of weeks now – eeek, it’s so agonisingly close now, it’s getting harder and harder not being able to share it with you quite yet. But soon and very soon!

spring term events programme now live

Monday, January 11th, 2016

It’s our centre’s first day open this term. It’s great to be back. And to celebrate, we’re sharing this term’s programme of events, activities and special prayer foci with you. Find out what’s planned here and then transfer it straight into your diary so you don’t miss out… we’re looking forward to seeing you!

val 15 15

Join us for any or all of the following this term:

Prayer times…

  • Our daily prayer rhythm – the fuel for everything we do here – running every day Monday-Friday at 9-10AM, 1-1.15PM and 5-5:15PM (our events programme details when we have a special focus or theme for our main, morning worship session… other days typically respond to the headlines or other key, outward focused topics.)
  • Monthly topical foci – some issues come to the fore in some seasons and – alongside praying for them on an ongoing basis, we often choose to dedicate a monthly special focus to them. Our current monthly special foci are environmental justice (1st of the month when Mon-Fri), the persecuted church (2nd Tuesday of the month) and trafficking and modern day slavery (21st of the month when Mon-Fri). Find out more details here.
  • Special, extended one-off prayer events – this term we are holding two of these, both in March: Thursday 17 March 2-4pm – prayer for, and Easter card writing to, persecuted Christians and Maundy Thursday (Thursday 24 March times tbc) – Day/night of prayer for the Middle East. (Find out more information, as soon as it becomes available, here.)

Sharing God’s love beyond our walls…

  • sparrow song – our resident song-birds will be singing through our open door four times this term so passers by can listen and/or drop-in. You can hear them on Saturdays 13 and 20 Feb and 12 and 19 March, always from 2:30-4:30PM.
  • You are Loved! – for the third year running, we’re planning a beautiful creative give-away on Sunday 14 Feb to tell everyone around us just how loved they are, whether Valentines day feels happy, sad or irrelevant to them… (Watch this space for more details coming soon.)

first flights for sparrow song

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Inspired by busking, we’ve launched a new initiative we’re really excited about! sparrow song are a duo made up of jazz singers Anya and Liz. They love singing songs they know by heart – from the heart. And they love taking these very special songs beyond our walls and out into public spaces – that way anyone can listen to their heavenly harmonies and hope-filled lyrics for free.

sparrowsong title image - low res

This term you can pop in to hear them singing in All Saints’ Church, Ilkley at any point:

Between 2:30 and 4:30pm on Saturday 24 October
Between 2:30 and 4:30pm on Sunday 8 November
Between 2:30 and 4:30pm on Saturday 14 November
Between 10:30am and 12:30pm on Saturday 19 December

Future dates and locations will be publicised at