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Story 35 - Revive, Leeds

Revive Church in Leeds
Suzie Abramian in conversation with Rev. Simon Hall 04/09/2020

Revive Church in Leeds describes itself as, ‘Dis-organised Religion. For people who like Jesus but aren't too sure about church.’ (https://reviveleeds.wordpress.com/about/).
In short, it is an informal church comprising largely of those who don’t fit into most churches or, as Minister Simon Hall says, ‘a church by outsiders for outsiders.’ Set in an area steeped in revolutionary left politics, strong concerns for ecological issues, LGBTQ inclusion and bohemian artistry, Revive reflects this in its passion for social activism, music and the arts, particularly shown by its connection to Left Bank, a community ar
MA Story35 - Picture1ts space in Hyde Park.

This highly creative and innovative church began its journey in the 90s with the young people from Moortown Baptist Church, where Simon was the Youth Pastor. He recalls how what began as relatively simple youth work in a local high school giving after-school music lessons, developed into a youth congregation with an early morning, before school, prayer group for teenagers - notably initiated by the teenagers themselves! - until the vision started to emerge for establishing a new kind of church for those who weren’t fitting into church elsewhere.
At the time there was already a regular youth worship event called Revive happening at Moortown and it was essentially from the young people who attended this that the desire to establish another church plant came in 1996. Over the last 20 plus years Revive has been through several stages of growth and decline, even being held in abeyance for a time to reassess its purpose. Although Simon reflects that they have a ‘DNA that’s never been written down,’ it is clear that their vision has always been to reach an alternative culture and as Simon says to ‘see the gospel be real among people who don’t fit into most churches’.
Throughout all the many stages this church has been through Simon also notes the importance of relationships and serving each other, particularly as they have sought to move away from the larger meetings of their beginnings and transition into a network of smaller groups.
Now, Revive has a Sunday evening gathering with a different focus each week of teaching, prayer, worship and general discernment for the community. However, it is probably the variety of mid-week groups which currently have the main focus in this church. These various groups consist of men's and women’s groups, family groups, house gatherings and amongst others, opportunities for the many talented musicians and artists within the church.

MA Story35 - Picture2This connection with the Arts is perhaps most clearly seen by the members of Revive who are also involved with Left Bank, a community arts venue which they took on almost twenty years ago when it was a derelict Anglican church. This cathedral - like building took many years to develop, not least due to its Grade 2* listed status and officially opened ten years ago. Although Simon himself says that, ‘I’m not big on buildings,’ he recognises what a key role taking over this awe-inspiring building has been, going as far to say that he can see how architecture can be a ‘gateway to God.’ It has also proved a resource for hospitably in the community like no other due to its sheer size, providing a venue for weddings, galleries, live music and large-scale events.                           
The kind of process that Revive has been through with Left Bank can also been seen in other missional adventures they have been a part of such as, The Wren Bakery, a social enterprise using baking and barista training as tools to help women build self-belief and gain transferable skills for employment, and Queer Church Leeds, a more recently formed community which celebrates LGBTQ+ people and aims to create a safe and open space for both fellowship and discussion.

MA Story35 - Picture3
 
Although few other churches may have the wealth of artistic skill and talent found at Revive there is still much encouragement to be taken from the journey this church has been on. As a community they don’t have a vision statement, but they do have a constant process of taking time out for people to express what their vision is. Simon explains that rather than a vision “brought down” from the minister or the support team, the discernment of decisions such as finances are given over to the community to decide upon. Furthermore, Simon notes that there is always a challenge as church to decide whether to take resources out of the world in order to build our own monument to ourselves or to be a vehicle for the Holy Spirit, sending people out into the world so God can be glorified.

 
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Kenny Brown
YBA, MA_Evangelism, MA_Social Action, Story51-60
Ben Tucker
Story51-60, SWBA, MA_Social Action, MA_Pioneering
Revd. Phil Wilks
HEBA, MA_Social Action, MA_Evangelism, Story51-60
Karen Gray
Story51-60, YBA, MA_Pioneering, MA_Evangelism
Gaynor Hammond
Story51-60, MA_Podcast, YBA
Tom MacDonald
Story51-60, YBA, MA_Church Planting
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