St Stephen's C of E Church, West Bowling, Bradford

Through chaos to the dance of joy

Youngsters dance for joy during a service marking the reopening of St Stephen’s church in Bradford last July, perfectly illustrating Rev Canon Jimmy Hinton’s winning submission.

Jimmy’s sentence supporting the picture was: ‘We are a church family that is open and active every day to support our local community through the beautiful chaos of life and help people to discover the love and grace of God.’
St Stephen's, Leeds

‘The church was scheduled for demolition,’ he said. ‘But it was kept open, and is now thriving, with refugee groups, a job club, drop-in support groups, a children’s clothes bank, and much, much more. We’re in an area of high deprivation, where people can live quite messy, chaotic lives. In the same way that Genesis describes God creating beauty out of chaos, we believe that it is possible to turn chaos into something beautiful, through God.’

The service – Jimmy himself can be seen dancing to the right of the photo, which was taken by church member Hannah Owens – was held after the installation of a heating system and new flooring, which meant the previously cold church can now be used every day of the week, all year round.
‘It cost £60,000, which is a huge amount of money here,’ said Jimmy. ‘And it was a true community effort. Most of the people in the area are from a Pakistani Muslim background, but everyone got involved – for instance, the local exercise group, which is predominantly Asian ladies, did a sponsored twenty-four hours’ exercise to raise funds – and everyone calls it “our church”.
‘I was surprised and overjoyed that we won – the prize will come in very handy indeed – and I think it’s a lovely photograph. It’s authentic and candid – it shows our family, and reflects the joy of discovering the love and grace of God.’
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