The Barn Coffee Shop donates £5,000 to local community groups

Just one year on from its official opening The Barn Coffee Shop, a social enterprise café based in the grounds of Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, is proving so popular that it has been able to give three local community groups grants totaling £5,000.

They are: Stainbeck United Reform Church, InterACT (a joint church and community partnership) and the café’s neighbour Meanwood Valley Urban Farm.

At a party to mark the Coffee Shop’s first birthday project manager Andrew MacBean reminded guests that besides serving some wonderful coffee and cakes The Barn provides a warm and welcoming meeting place for a number of local community groups which in turn gives them the opportunity to develop and promote new and challenging initiatives.

“Today” he said, “on our first birthday it’s not only a real treat to be able to hand over such a significant amount of money, it’s also a chance for me to say a huge thank you lto our directors, our staff and to all our brilliant volunteers.”

We don’t get one another

I went to London this week and sat in my seat of choice – a table seat, facing forward, next to the window for the view and the socket to power my laptop. Now getting a table seat means that you are in for an adventure as you don’t know who your 3 companions will be. This is the other reason for my chosen seat, because then my good hearing ear is facing the other three seats so I am ready for the conversations that may come.

On this trip, a pinstriped man got on at Leeds, sat opposite and was all computer spreadsheets and mobile calls back to the office. When we got to Peterborough the other two spaces were taken by two extrovert women who were plotting their day’s shopping in Oxford Street. They were incessantly chatty covering topics ranging from the attractiveness of the train guard to how you would remove the emergency window, the strawberry scent in the toilet and the scary things on their Facebook. Their breathless chatter sounded all the more southern on the 08.45 from West Yorkshire.

We never got talking because we all felt so different and didn’t have a clue what we would say to one another. Maybe we were lost in our own worlds.

This is a big problem in our society. We don’t understand people who are different from us. The white working classes are incomprehensible to the upper middle classes, young Asians are a mystery to people who have been living in the same seaside town for generations. When we are faced with this we stereotype or view others with a sense of condescension or threat.

This is only exacerbated by the ways we choose to relate today. Instead of meeting in mixed local communities we interact through interest groups and follow those we like. By definition, this tends to exclude those who are different and only serve to entrench ignorance of the other.

Such mutual unfamiliarity isn’t new. I remember family Christmases in the early 1970s when my paternal grandad from Doncaster would share a week with my maternal grandmother from Kent. He would sit at one end of the lounge smoking his Woodbines as the cloud of nicotine descended to knee height while she would sit by the opposite window, rubbing her eyes as she read her People’s Friend.

Of course, as a middle-class Christian orientated toward inclusion I have the right attitudes and won’t excuse prejudice. On top of this, I will pray and donate to alleviate poverty and discrimination. But doing that doesn’t mean that I am at home with or welcoming to others, it just means that I care at a distance.

We live in a globally interconnected world, yet as individuals we struggle to “get” people in our own country who are different from us. This is important at this time. In an election, we are asked to vote for politicians who don’t really believe or understand us and will “get” us even less when they are sent to Westminster. We are offered policies that often appeal to our differences rather than what brings us together. The people we vote for will have a responsibility to engage with international challenges, like climate change, migration, care for an ageing populations etc. and not just to vote for tribal vested interests.

A local church is a good place to bridge differences and build a common understanding. Finding growing diversity in our church is a good thing. This is fragile for two reasons – people often select the church that meets their taste which works against variety and secondly, the diversity can remain superficial and therefore uninspiring in the long run. That is why it is vital to try to relate more deeply within our church and to interact with other groups.

There are hopeful signs are when we not only meet people different from us, but when we share deeper conversations, laughter, tears and experiences together.

In the past year, I have enjoyed playing local cricket and meeting young Asians and local people from West Yorkshire villages and sharing sport and relaxation after the games. And we don’t just talk about sport!

I imagine we can learn so much by reading widely and watching a variety of films, in order to be stimulated by different views.

I have found it exciting to get involved with groups campaigning for a better Leeds because I meet people unlike me who are not being polite, but engaged in something they are passionate about.

One of the most dispiriting things I see is people lecturing other people, whom they don’t understand and haven’t listened to, on how they should live and vote and what they should believe.

On the other hand, one of the most exciting things is witnessing people coming together, forming relationships and discovering what they care about in the world.

I wonder how we give time to meet people unlike us and take the opportunity to share fun, tears and deeper things of life.

Graham Brownlee

27 April 2017


An Environmental Plan A – Caring for God’s Creation, number 3… Recycling

We hear much about recycling, and everyone in Leeds has a Green Bin into which we are supposed to put all our household waste material that can be recycled. Please read the leaflet on recycling that our City Council has recently circulated. Why is this so important? When our various possessions reach the end of their useful lives, whether worn-out or not, we are faced with the tasks of disposal and replacement. If we take a moment to consider the natural world, we can see that nature recycles all of its materials. Dead vegetation decays, and the compost can be returned to the soil. Even large plants like trees are recycled by fungi when they die. Likewise dead animals are cleared up by scavengers.

Mankind however, produces mountains of waste materials, which can be unsightly and cause nasty, polluting effects. At the outset, we take huge quantities of virgin material from the Earth to make our products, and then discard items when we have finished with them. Increasingly, we discard things well before they are worn out, and they may be perfectly serviceable, but we just fancy the latest model. A large advertising industry now exists just to persuade us to continually up-date and to up-grade our stuff. At all costs, we must avoid filling landfill sites, and discarding useful and serviceable items. We must emulate nature, and ‘close the loop’.

What can we do?

  • If you have items to dispose of consider donating them to a good cause such as St Gemma’s hospice, or St George’s Crypt, rather than selling them on e-bay. Last year St. Gemma’s raised 25% of their annual running costs via their chain of charity shops. They will take books, CD’s, items of clothing, household goods, TV sets, etc.
  • Items of furniture can be given to the Leeds and Moortown furniture store.
  • Recycle as much household waste as you can. The Leeds City Council green bin will take paper and card, empty food tins, foil trays, tops from jam and preserve jars, drink cans, empty aerosols such as hair spray, deodorant, biscuit and sweet tins, etc.
  • Most plastic items carry the little recycling triangle symbol. Those bearing the numbers 1, 2 and 4, can be put into your green bin. Plastic magazine wrappers can be recycled at Sainsbury’s Moortown store. I have seen all these being recycled into useful, durable plastic products for the construction industry.
  • Take empty bottles and jars to the bottle bank, they can be recycled as cullet to make more glass.

Why is this important?

If we recycle and re-use our materials, we reduce the demand for virgin materials that have to be extracted from nature. The extracting, transporting, and processing of materials consumes huge amounts of energy. If we recycle, we are saving both materials and energy, and cutting down on pollution – we are caring for God’s creation.

John Sturges       ;

Julia Hyliger       ;

April 2017

New General Director for BMS

BMS World Mission is pleased to announce that Dr Kang-San Tan will take up the role of BMS General Director after David Kerrigan retires from the role in the summer. Dr Tan is currently Executive Director for AsiaCMS, an Asian indigenous mission network in relationship with Church Mission Society, and will join BMS in the autumn. 

Dr Tan is presently based in his home country of Malaysia, where he is a life member of Trinity Baptist Church and Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church. He and his wife Loun Ling Lee, together with their daughter Chara, also have the active and ongoing support of Grace Chinese Christian Church in Singapore.

Having gained a Doctor of Ministry degree from Trinity International University in the United States of America, Kang-San also completed a PhD in the Theology of Religions, with special reference to Buddhism, at Aberdeen University.
Maureen Russell, Chair of BMS Trustees, warmly welcomed his appointment: “Everyone on the search committee was very impressed by Kang-San’s missiological experience, insight and vision for BMS. The Trustees are unanimous in our welcome to him, as he takes us into the future, building on David Kerrigan’s very successful period of leadership.”
The retiring General Director also welcomed the appointment. “We have worked hard over recent years to learn from the World Church and to internationalise our leadership,” David Kerrigan said. “I’m delighted that that commitment has come to very significant fruition with the appointment of Kang-San, who will have my full support as he prepares to take over the leadership of this wonderful organisation.”
Dr Tan is planning to take up the post of General Director in October.
There’s more about Dr Tan – about where he comes from and where he hopes to take BMS here…

MBC’s home grown furniture store picks up a major royal award… for the second time

Huge congratulations to everyone at The Leeds and Moortown Furniture Store on being awarded The Duke of York’s Community Initiative – for the second time.


This prestigious prize is awarded to community groups and charities throughout Yorkshire who are deemed by the Initiative’s Assessors to be making a very real difference to the communities they serve.

The Store, as many of you will already know, began life here at MBC in 1986. Today, more than thirty years on it is based in a 10,000 sq ft warehouse in Seacroft, collects and then gives away more than 6,000 separate items of furniture every year, runs a wholly owned retail arm and employs seven staff.

The Store first collected the DOYCI award in 2011, and as is the scheme’s practice it was invited to reapply in 2016.

This year’s ceremony was held in St Paul’s Hall at Huddersfield University and was attended by more than two hundred representatives from the 42 successful organisations. Presenting the award to LMFS’ General Manager John Gamson, Dr Ingrid Roscoe The Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire commented on how vital the type of work the store does is and thanked everyone for their commitment.

With John at Huddersfield were driver Robbie and two of the store’s volunteers Peter and Danny. Next month, however, three of the team will be travelling to St James’ Palace, London to attend a reception hosted by the scheme’s Patron HRH The Duke of York.The picture above shows John Gamson (second left) with Dr Roscoe (centre) and representative of the other sixteen West Riding based organistaions that were presented with the award.


Have you heard about SPREE?

Last June, Moortown Baptist Church along with Riverside Church took 40 children (in Year 3-Year 10) away for a fun packed Christian weekend break run by Urban Saints.

It was a great weekend for the kids to worship with their friends, and learn about God in fun and engaging way.  Not only that but as part of the weekend at Holly Bush Farm in Thirsk there are huge inflatables, a silent disco, crafts, games and so much more.

This year we are planning on going again.  The weekend falls on the 23rd-25th of June and costs £55 per child.  That includes food and fun. If your child would like to come please let me know as soon as possible at  It will be awesome!!


If you are interested in sleeping in a field and seeing God work in the lives of children – give me a call!!  Or maybe you can’t make it but you have a tent that can – all water-proof tents welcome.

Finally, if kids aren’t your thing but you are free on the Friday to put up lots of tents in a field you would be really welcome to join me!!

Above all please start praying now for the children who are coming – I already have 17 children on my list!




Being Baptist, Being MBC – link in to a summary of what we talked about at our recent get-together

Last Monday evening we hosted the second of our Being Baptist, Being MBC sessions and fifteen people met here at MBC to look at church membership and what it means to be Baptist.

Here’s a link to a summary of some of the stuff we thought about and shared. If having read it you find that this is something that interests you have a chat with Shona Shaw, Graham Brownlee or with any member of the leadership team, they would be delighted to tell you more.

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