ABBEY CHURCH SERVICE
A small group of Abbey members meet on the 1st Sunday of the month (except in August and December) at St Mary’s Church Longsleddale at 10:30 a.m. This service aims to provide a space to listen to God and to reflect on what we’ve heard. We use ancient spiritual disciplines in a modern context. Each service focusses on one of the waymarks that we use as a framework to help us understand what being a disciple of Jesus looks like in our time and setting.
St. Mary’s Church is a wonderful (but cold!) peaceful place of God in the beautiful Longsleddale Valley on the Eastern edge of the Lake District. Like many other rural churches, the church could no longer sustain regular Sunday services and was only used as a ‘Festival Church’ and for champing (camping in a church). The church is now used by us once a month for a different style of service that is eminently suited to the setting.
Our meeting adopts a Celtic style using a simple liturgy that draws on nature. We use periods of silence to listen to God, and ancient spiritual disciplines that help us in this listening. These include a Prayer of Examen and a Lectio Divina – a way of experiencing God through repeated reading of a short passage from the Bible with no agenda, preconceptions, or anticipated outlook in mind that allows withdrawal into a place of peace.
The service concludes with an act of commissioning where we each bring a stone to form an indoor cairn that symbolises us as a community of pilgrims coming together to form our own waymark. The conversation then flows over tea and coffee, and home-made cake. Sometimes we extend the talk on a short walk in the nearby hills.
We’ve intentionally designed the service to be very simple, so that it can be replicated, without a need for a trained or skilled leader. Every service follows the same pattern but we vary each one by focusing on one of the ten Waymarks. A service sheet and Waymark sheets can be downloaded from the Resources page.