Huge crowds roll up to one of the UK’s biggest Messy Churches

One of the UK’s largest Messy Churches has been hailed a huge success after 1,800 people attended the Cumbrian event.

Hundreds of families headed to the Rheged Discovery Centre near Penrith for four hours of circus themed fun at the weekend.

The Big Top Circus Party included workshops with animals as well as others in woodwork, street dance, singing and circus skills, all aimed at celebrating people’s individual gifts and talents. Messy Church is a way of being church for families involving fun, creativity, celebration and hospitality and is primarily aimed at people who don’t have connections with any form of church.

Sarah Hulme, the Children, Families and Young People’s Evangelism Enabler for the Reach team which is part of the cross-denominational God for All strategy – oversaw the event.

She said: “This is the second year in a row we’ve held a Messy Church at Rheged. Last year’s was massively popular and so we knew we had a high benchmark to meet. From both the feedback and the footfall we’re confident that we’ve achieved that aim and are thrilled that so many new faces chose to spend their afternoon getting Messy about God in fun and exciting ways.

“Obviously we could not make this work without the help and support of all the team at Rheged. We are so fortunate to have such a willing partner and our thanks go to everyone involved at the visitor centre.”

Overall 1,800 people took part in the Messy Church event with 600 goody bags given away and 700 Messy Cumbria maps which show towns and villages where Messy Churches are regularly held.

Among those at the event were the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, Chair of the Cumbria Methodist District, the Rev Richard Teal, and the Rev Sarah Moore, Area President Cumbria Area of the North Western Synod of the United Reformed Church.

Bishop James said: “It’s been wonderful to come along to such a wonderful ecumenical celebration which again demonstrates the wonderful ways that we’re working across denominations to provide everybody in our county the opportunity to explore more of God and God’s purpose for their lives.

“I’ve been particularly struck by the sheer numbers of people we’ve had through the doors who expressly came to be part of this Messy Church event.”

A special Messy Circus event resource pack is to be made available to interested groups.


​For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at

Roll Up to One of the UK’s Biggest Messy Churches

Hundreds of people are set to roll up to Rheged  for some circus-themed, free fun at Cumbria’s biggest Messy Church.

On Sunday 3 February the venue near Penrith – one of Cumbria’s largest visitor attractions – will open its doors to activities, crafts, music, workshops and celebrations all organised by a special ‘Messy Cumbria’ team.

Messy Church is a way of being church for families involving fun, creativity, celebration and hospitality and is primarily aimed at people who don’t have connections with any form of church. Sarah Hulme, the Children, Families and Young People’s Evangelism Enabler for the Reach team which is part of the cross-denominational God for All strategy – is overseeing the event.

 She said: “The event is based around the circus big top and will give everyone the opportunity to celebrate their unique gifts and talents. It’s our prayer that by taking part in the activities on offer, people will see it is God’s plan that we’re all designed to shine. There’ll be loads of different workshops and people can book places online now so they can plan their day ahead of time – and it’s all for free! We’re thrilled that Rheged has agreed to host this Messy Church for a second year running and can’t thank the team there enough for the support they’ve provided.”

The Big Top Party: Messy Rheged will include 15 minute workshops throughout the day on street dance, circus skills, creating with wood, vocal skills as well as an animal antics zone.

Last year Rheged hosted its first Messy Church event as part of the county-wide Moving Mountains mission, attended by leaders from the Church of England, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Salvation Army. More than 2,000 people took part, making it one of the biggest Messy Churches ever to be staged in the UK.  This year organisers are hoping for even more visitors with the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, also dropping in to Messy Rheged which runs from 11am to 3pm.

Bishop said: “Last year’s event was one which created a real buzz of excitement. There was plenty of laughter, fun and celebration and I’m thrilled to be going back again for more. I hold this event up to God as an opportunity to reach new people in new ways and grow his Kingdom here in Cumbria and beyond.”

To book a workshop slot visit


Pic caption: Stilt walker Jem Maynard-Watts is pictured at Messy Rheged 2018 with, from the left, the Rev Mike Talbot, Evangelism Enabler, and the Rt Rev James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle.

​For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at


The sound of broken pots accompanied one of the experiences at the Fresh Expressions Cumbria gathering on the 10th November, as we were led in a session based on a local cafe church in Brough. This was just one of the local stories we heard over the course of the day, also hearing about a food initiative on the West Coast, a school Eucharist in rural Eskdale and a spot of clothes sorting with Carlisle OpShops. With additional theological input and some fantastic poetry from Ruth Wells, and insight and a Shhhh experience from Andy Freeman from Space to Breathe, it was a great day. In the afternoon there was a reflective session based on the temptation of Christ looking at three themes: Resisting the Power to possess, the power to provide and the power to perform, for which we created 3 self-led small group resources: ‘people not products’, ‘with not for’ and ‘serving not performing’. These were well received and as such we are pleased to offer these out as a resource, if you are interested please email Richard Passmore. In the evening we had a smaller gathering for pioneers, poetry and pie! If you’d like to know more about Fresh Expressions Cumbria please email Richard, or join our Cumbria Fresh Expressions Facebook Group.

Moving Forwards

A fantastic day was spent with The Two Rivers Mission Community on 22nd September as they engaged with the Moving Forward workshop- Catching the Vision.

A mix of people from all of the churches in the community both lay and ordained worked together on a variety of activities to support their mission community development.

“First rate” “ easily understandable, prepared and presented well”, “Thought provoking and challenging”
Are just some of the feedback captured from the day.

I encourage all mission communities to get in touch and sign up for these workshops.
Jane Maycock- CCL-
Emma Richardson- REACH-

Patterdale Family Fun Day

Patterdale Anglican and Methodist churches came together on Sunday 16th September for  a family fun day and songs of praise outdoor service.  Children engaged with many activities all based around the Lost Sheep parable. A child friendly worship time included a story , songs and prayer time. Refreshments were served and then led into a more traditional songs of praise type service.

It was wonderful to see the usual Sunday congregation doubled in size and to include so many children and families with little or no connection to the church.  this reaching out was seen to be a huge success and thoughts are going onto planning what’s next. 

Whole Life Worship

People were inspired to encourage congregations to connect Sunday services with Whole Life Worship after attending a day hosted by Sam Hargreaves from Engage Worship. 

“Lots of ideas that are easily applicable – I look forward to using some of them.” – day participant

Resources highlighted on the day can be accessed here.

Moving Mountains 2018 Report Published

13 months in the planning. 40 senior church leaders in the county. 33 church groupings involved. Five launch meetings. Four preparation booklets. 15,000 gospels printed. 500 events run. 30,000 people contacted. 10,000 schoolchildren engaged. Four wonderful days of mission.

Just some of the headlines from the Moving Mountains 2018 mission. For a full low-down on the mission, please click on the final report above, which has just been published.

South Lakes Mini Pilgrims – South Walney

Glorious weather accompanied the South Lakes Mini Pilgrims to South Walney nature reserve. he enjoyed time together in this ‘thin place’ watching Sandwich Terns, Oyster Catchers and Seals.

Mini Pilgrims is one of the Mountains Pilgrims groups which seeks to “meet outside to discover the ‘thin places’ where the spirit soars and we are lifted out of the everyday”. To find out more visit the Mountain Pilgrims website.

Messy Rheged

Hundreds of families joined in Cumbria’s biggest Messy Church at Rheged visitor centre near Penrith on Sunday 11th March, organised as part of the larger county-wide Moving Mountains weekend. One hundred volunteers spent the day ensuring the whole Messy Church ran smoothly. Messy Church Leaders from across Cumbria, volunteers from local churches and several young leaders, spend the day offering a who range of  free activities around the theme of ‘Finding God’s Love’. The fun on offer included a lost sheep treasure hunt, cleaning dirty pennies in the Messy science zone, exploring the virtual land of Ancora in the gaming zone, decorating heart shaped biscuits, making a ‘Marbellous musical instrument’ in the woodcraft zone, drumming in the music zone, making biodegradable pots and planting seeds as part of the craft zone. There were also various pop up activities on offer throughout the day, including a ‘God thinks you’re gorgeous’ selfie station, lunchtime cafe table-talk activities, prayer stations and some roving entertainment from Thomas Trilby. Three celebrations occurred throughout the day in the lecture theatre, each gather families to explore a different lost and found parable.

To find out more about Messy Cumbria click here.​

Pouring Out God’s Love – Gill Grisedale


Dave Roberts, Diocese of Carlisle Communications Manager

Meet Gill Grisedale, a Community Pastor at St Mark’s Church in Barrow-in-Furness.
She stepped out in faith, gave up her previous job and is now working for the church in one of Cumbria’s most deprived parishes.

​From lunch clubs to clothes banks and knit-and-natter drop-in sessions for community groups, Gill is helping outreach right across the parish.
Gill says: “I pray to God each day to use me and make His brew inside me and then I’ve just got to go out there in the community and pour out that brew. I don’t have to worry about saying the right thing or the wrong thing because if it;’s God-centred and I just let God pour it out then it will just be perfect.”
From the Munchie Mark’s lunch Club through to the Musical Mark’s Community Choir, Gill – through God – is reaching out with love.

Watch the film below to see how God is working through Gill as she helps some of those most in need.