EThe Sunderland parish of Monkwearmouth is preparing for some major events over the next few weeks.
On June 4, at 2pm and 7pm there will be a performance of Into the Woods written by Stephen Sondheim in St Andrew’s, Roker.
The opportunity came about through the Cultural Spring and BBC’s Great North Passion to forge lasting links between St Andrew’s and the University of Sunderland.
The Revd Dick Bradshaw, of St Andrew’s, said: “We are trying to raise the profile of St Andrew’s and this is a major opportunity.”
The church invited Graeme Danby, an international professional operatic bass and visiting Professor of Music at Sunderland University, to consider using St Andrew’s as a venue for concert and drama.
Dick said: ““Graeme was hugely enthusiastic and asked if he could bring his students for a performance of Into the Woods with all profits going to church funds. The piece is appropriate for all age groups.
“This event represents in a big, visual way what the Church offering in that it is engaging with the local community and the University in particular with families, friends.
“Graeme Danby has asked if he can return to St Andrew’s for the University to perform a Carol Concert which will be one of several big community events St Andrew’s will offer this coming Christmas to celebrate and make known to the surrounding communities the good news of Christ’s birth.”
The students will also meet congregation members informally over coffee in the Hall following the 9.30am service on 25th May at 10.45am when they will to perform some of the music.
Dick said: “It will be an opportunity for church members to get to know some of the young people and begin to develop relationships between church and students.”
At the other end of the Parish, at St Peter’s, Sunderland City Council have put major financial resources into landscaping the churchyard in a way which reflects the monastic heritage of St Peter’s.
This includes a “time-line” footpath over the original Anglo Saxon footpath down to the river to reflect Benedict Biscop’s journeys to Rome; recreating the outline of the original monastic buildings with stylised low walls, and much else besides. There will also be a community/prayer garden with a number of community groups committed to involvement, with the additional potential for fresh food produced to be used immediately in St Peter’s Café, Bede’s Bakehouse.
Also. the twelve windows in Bede’s Bakehouse are going to be replaced by stained glass designed by a first rate glass artist which will reflect the life and work of the Venerable Bede. Again, the City Council has allocated substantial funds for this and the Parish has been working for many months in partnership with the council.
Dick said: “This will be visually stunning and may, of itself and draw many numbers of visitors. The preliminary work is due to begin in June.
“The three events taken together are really major things in which the church in Monkwearmouth is currently engaged. These are exciting times.”