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'A weekend that few will forget'

Yorkshire churches welcome the Tour de France with generosity and hospitality

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Le Tour de France passes in front of New North Road Baptist Church in Huddersfield

Yorkshire Baptist Churches played their part in welcoming the Tour De France to God’s Own County this week. All over Yorkshire church buildings on the route of Le Tour were open to welcome visitors throughout a weekend that few will ever forget.

Le Tour is the world’s biggest annual sporting events and it brings with it thousands of cyclists, backup workers, journalists and cycling fans.

It also attracts spectators on every inch of the route and it’s estimated that there million people were on the roadside to welcome the riders as they rode though Yorkshire on Saturday and Sunday 5 and 6 July.

In the Huddersfield area the route passed in front of three Baptist Churches. Blackley Baptist Church in Elland gave out drinks and bacon sandwiches all day to hungry spectators, while New North Road Baptist Church put a “Jesus Loves you” banner on their roof and opened a French café.

They held a special Le Tour service at 7.30pm on Sunday after the roads around the church re-opened.

Lockwood Baptist Church in Huddersfield had the ideal location for Le Tour, sitting above the route on a big bend which allowed spectators one of the best views of the race.

Lockwood’s minister Brian Davison said that the church was determined to demonstrate the generosity of God by offering everything they did for free.

They offered free food and drinks and had two big screens showing the progress of the race. The church also erected a temporary gallery of seating, with the best seats offered to the most needy in the community. Brian said they were able to offer a special treat to one lady.

“The local council told us of a lady celebrating her 82nd birthday who loved the cycling and had asked for some souvenir of the race as she wouldn’t be able to see it live. We gave her a front row seat to watch the Tour go by. She said it was the best birthday she’s ever had”.

While most commercial concerns were making the most of Le Tour to boost their businesses, the churches of Yorkshire were demonstrating the love of God through generosity and hospitality. As the banner on York Minister said, they were offering an “allez, alleluia” to Le Tour, making a weekend of sport into a weekend of praise and Christian service.

Wayne Clarke is the minister of New North Road Baptist Church, Huddersfield

Baptist Times, 09/07/2014
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