06/02/13 14:30




Keith Blundy


07900 583131



Durham Parishes and Beaver Scouts Host Carnival Weekend

A pair of Durham parishes are set to usher in Lent with a difference this weekend (9-10 February). Instead of the traditional pancakes, Belmont and Pittington in the Diocese of Durham are taking their cue from the more exotic Mardi Gras celebrations held around the world, with a Carnival themed weekend of events planned.

The Vicar, Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, said: “Traditionally around the world, Lent as a time of self-denial has been framed by great celebrations before and after, emphasising the contrast of the seasons.

“We wanted to revive this sense of holding celebration and fasting together, and do it in a way that is engaging for young families and those in our neighbourhoods who don’t have a habit of churchgoing.”

The parishes have joined forces with the local Beaver Scouts to enjoy a Carnival weekend. They are holding a Carnival Activity Day on Saturday 9th February, in St Mary Magdalene Church, Belmont, from 10 am to 12 noon.

Miranda said: “It will be like a massive Messy Church event with crafts and activities for all ages from toddlers to teenagers and adults. At the end of the morning, the church will be almost unrecognisable! Our focus is going to be on bright colours and exuberant decoration, to make a dull February day glow with all the colours of the Rio Carnival.”

The morning service at 9.30am on Sunday 10th February in St Mary Magdalene Belmont will be a joint celebration with their sister parish St Laurence Pittington, and the local Beaver Scouts, and will continue to feature the Carnival theme.

Miranda said: “It will be a proper Church of England communion service with a Carnival twist. Expect more crafts, some lively music and well known hymns for a good sing and a fresh look at what some of the traditional elements of the service mean.”

The local Beaver Scouts are combining attending the weekend’s activities and service with an all- night Beaver Sleepover, and will be leading the prayers in the Service on Sunday morning. The Vicar will be testing them on their Faith Badge over the weekend too.

Miranda said: “Belmont Scouting and Guiding are flourishing and as church- sponsored groups they already have a strong relationship with the church. We are building on that to ensure that all have the opportunity to learn more about their faith and the traditions of the church, and to build their confidence in public speaking and performance by leading parts of the services.”

The Cubs and Scouts will also be working on their Faith Badges over the coming month, and with the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides, and Junior Church groups, will be participating in the parade service for Mothering Sunday on 10th March.

Nationally, the Scouting movement is currently consulting on rewording the Promises members make when they join to remove the reference to God.

Miranda feels this would be a pity: “I was a Brownie and a Guide myself and made those promises and attended monthly Church Parade services, even though at the time I wouldn’t have called myself a Christian.

“I think the inclusion of God in the Promises calls attention to a wider view of the world, and a sense that everyone is equally and uniquely valuable. I think children normally have a much deeper sense of holiness and mystery than we adults often give them credit for.”



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The Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall Holmes at St Laurence Pittington


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The Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall Holmes at St Laurence Pittington


MANDATORY Picture Byline: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates or Keith Blundy


  1. FURTHER INFORMATION – Diocese of Durham
    The Church of England Diocese of Durham is based in Durham and also covers the historic County Durham including the southern part of Tyne and Wear including South Tyneside the cities of Gateshead and Sunderland also the boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, and the area of Stockton-on-Tees north of the River Tees. The mission of the diocese of Durham is to reach out to all people with the Good News of Jesus Christ, through evangelism, social action, community development, engaging with issues of poverty and the environment, Fair Trade, as well as working ecumenically and with other faith groups.
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