Ministry and witness in Sheffield

Sheffield 2013 Pilgrimage BroomhallDavid Price reports on Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield’s fifth annual  Pilgrimage Against Poverty.

This year’s Pilgrimage, on Saturday 12 October, started at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, where Sue Hammersley led an opening service and told the pilgrims about Broomhall and its various church projects.

Sheffield 2013 Pilgrimage PonderosaWe then proceeded uphill to Weston Park and prayed for the Children’s Hospital. We went on to St Stephen’s, Netherthorpe, where we heard us about the multi-ethnic population  surrounding the church today, and Revd Nick Jowett recalled his boyhood there before the council estates had been created. We walked through Ponderosa Park (right) to Upperthorpe, and learned about the Zest project, combining health schemes, swimming pool, employment projects, and a library, though the latter is threatened with closure. Sheffield 2013 Pilgrimage St ThomasWe had lunch at St Thomas, Philadelphia (left), where Christians against Poverty give advice on debt problems and the church runs a food bank and provides housing for some homeless people. At St Bartholomew’s, we heard about their big mental health project. We finished the pilgrimage at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, where we heard about the many projects run by Hillsborough churches.

Despite intermittent rain, our 45 pilgrims enjoyed the experience. The Catholic bishop, John Rawsthorne, felt this walk would be a good introduction to ministry in Sheffield. There were depressing features, notably the many shops boarded up in various small shopping centres along the way. The combination of giant supermarkets and growing poverty has destroyed many small shops. But it was heartening to visit vibrant churches that are active in supporting their local communities and to join with Christians from many different traditions in witness to serving the people of Sheffield.


David Price is a committee member of Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield. The local group is hosting our annual conference this year, on 9 November. David Price will be one of the speakers in a panel debate on the day.

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