Leeds Sanctuary, Sanctuary

Sanctuary

This week, David discusses “Sanctuary”…

Sanctuary offers us both our name and one of our values at Leeds Sanctuary. Like so many words it can mean different things to different people. What then does Sanctuary mean to us as the Methodist Church in Leeds City Centre?

The Rock Chapel at St Bueno’s Church, North Wales

I remember as a child going on a school trip to The Church of the Ascension in Hulme, Manchester. One of the ‘features’ of the church is/was a set of handcuffs attached to pipes in the vestry (Vicar’s Office). The handcuffs were used by Viraj Mendis, a Sinhalese Sri Lankan who had lived in Britain for 16 years before he was served with a deportation notice, who sought sanctuary from the authorities and lived in the vestry for two years.

For Mendis, the small vestry was a place where he felt as safe as he could in the circumstances; where he could rest, where he could meet with those he felt comfortable with but I’m sure also those who challenged him, where if he wished he could join in the worship of the church, and from where he and others could challenge injustice.

Leeds Sanctuary is an organisation where we co-create with you places of Sanctuary in everyday life. These spaces will not be small rooms with handcuffs or even enclosed spaces, but spaces where we can feel safe, where we can rest and find quiet in the busyness of life, where we can meet with those whose company we enjoy and those who challenge us, where we can meet and worship God if we wish to and from where we can challenge injustice.

‘Our search involves learning how to build a sanctuary in the midst of everyday life.’

Abbot Christopher Jamison in Finding Sanctuary, Monastic Steps for Everyday Life. ISBN: 0-297-85132-2

Our hope is that these spaces will be places of encounter from which justice will flow, all those who are part of them will flourish and from our encounters and city we are part of will flourish.

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