Thank you

We (Lee and Liz) have made steady progress in unpacking the many hundreds of boxes in our new home at Curbar in Derbyshire. We arrived in rain which soon turned to sleet and then hail – it was white all over by the time the removal men left. But then the sun shone as we unpacked! It revealed a very beautiful part of God’s kingdom with Curbar Edge as a magnificent backdrop to the house (but it’s not quite yet as beautiful as God’s own county of Yorkshire). The name of the area in which we live offers us great encouragement though – it is called the Hope Valley!

We have been overwhelmed with your many messages, cards and gifts since we arrived here and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your support and prayer has been invaluable. The messages and prayers have made the transition much easier but we are still missing our friends in Ilkley so much. Please do keep in touch, as we will with you – it means an awful lot.

Lee starts his now job as Diocesan Church Growth Officer on the 30th April and would particularly value your prayers to do this in God’s strength. Initially Lee will be going round the southern part of the diocese getting to know the clergy and finding out what growth strategies they already have in place and what growth strategies they need support with.

Liz would value your prayers in securing a new job as quickly as possible.

Megan continues to live in Ilkley during the week (many thanks to her very kind host as well as the many others who offered to put her up). She will probably be home with us at weekends.

As we have been praying for you over the past few days we have continued to gain a sense that God’s vision for growth for All Saints’ will come to fruition. God is graceful and what He promises He will always come good on. Hallelujah.

We will always welcome anyone who is in the area so do please come visit. You can still follow Lee’s blog and also his Twitter too if you like.



This week is very exciting as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter Day.

Please do come along to as many of the services as you can:-

Maundy Thursday

7.30pm Holy Communion with footwashing ceremony (several pre-prepared people will have their feet washed symbolically) – all welcome

Good Friday

10.45am Hot Cross Bun service – great for all ages (1/2 hour service) – all welcome

12 noon Churches Together Walk of Witness – meet outside our church – all welcome

2.00pm Last Hour at the Cross – meditative with hymns – all welcome

Easter Day

8.00am Traditional quiet communion – all welcome

9.15am Traditional communion with hymns – all welcome

10.45am Easter Celebration & communion. Worship band, kids groups and bouncy castle and egg hunt afterwards for kids – all welcome

6.30pm Songs of Praise (traditional hymns) – all welcome

Hope you are able to be at some of these services.

I’m looking forward to preaching at the services on easter day which will be my penultimate service. My last one being a joint 10am service on the 15th April.

Really looking forward to worshipping with you this weekend.

With every blessing




A friend of mine got confused yesterday and started panic buying pasties……

Isn’t it just mildly ridiculous the way politicians (of all parties) seize upon the smallest opportunities to try and gain favour? Both the PM and the leader of the opposition, both of whom are more used to ordering fois gras at the Ivy, try to suggest to us that they are down with the people. Cameron clearly ‘forgot’ that he never actually had a cornish pastie at a none existent food outlet at Leeds station and Milliband looking so uncomfortable as he walked into a Greggs to order sausage rolls. Ridiculous!

Substance over spin is what’s required right now.

As we approach Holy Week and Easter we see substance in abundance.

No need for spin or hyperbole as we consider the events of this coming week. Jesus goes to the cross for our redemption. Simple. Jesus rises again to show us our eternity. Simple. Jesus declares that there is no other way. Simple. John 14: 6 shares the message of hope for those who put their trust in the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me”


This Sunday is Palm Sunday and I’m really looking forward to preaching on Mark 11: 1-9 at the services.

See you in church.

Every blessing


The Reverend Lee Townend MA
All Saints’, Ilkley
Weddings Project
Twitter: @Leethevicar
01943 430693


Back and beyond

I’m in the process of putting together my report for the Annual General Meeting (which I won’t be at because, sadly, I will have moved by then to Derby Diocese). This is some of what I’ve put together so far.

Looking back on the last year we have made good progress as we usher in the fulfilment of the vision God has given to our church.

We have seen the start of many new movements of the Spirit including the multi church venture of 24/7 prayer, the final year of our worship leaders on the Worship Academy training course, the progression of our church development to its final stage of planning, the welcoming of The Sanctuary project, a significant church weekend away, a gift day that raised £50,000 in a single day, the appointment of our excellent youth and children’s workers and so much more.

Our curates and preachers continue to offer first rate biblical teaching and we are blessed by so many able people who are listening to God and exercising the gifts He has given them. People are beginning to exercise spiritual gifts.

We are blessed indeed.

The scriptures say this “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2: 2

The vision God has given to our church, and the vision that will continue is this: “Going for Growth through excellence in Welcome; Worship and Witness’. Our strap-line is “To see an ever increasing number of people coming into an ever deepening relationship with God”

It is a simple statement that God intends this church to grow. Every group in our church and every person who belongs to our church must ask themselves “Is everything we do helping to grow this church? Is our group welcoming to others? Do we have worship at the heart of what we do? Are we witnessing to the love of Christ?”

These should be the questions always before us as we go on into the rest of 2012.

When I was called by God to serve here He made it clear that it would only be for a short season. When I went to see Bishop David before I was appointed he told me that he wanted me to ‘challenge the church to grow’. He said this might not be easy. He said I should ‘shake things up a little’.

Many people, when I arrived, said that they felt I had been called here to break the ground and lay foundations for future growth. Thisresonated with what God was saying about only being here for a season. It resonated with what Bishop David said. It also resonated with the scriptureI planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3: 6

I hope that what I have done over the past three and a half years is what I was called to do. My job has been, along with many of you, to break the ground and lay the foundation for growth.

Your new Vicar, who I pray will encourage charismatic gifting, will lead you further on in the vision that God has given to the church. Our church is in safe hands – because it belongs to God. It is the bride of Christ. It will grow.

One sign of growth, bizarrely, could be that in the short term the church could become smaller in size. Please do not be alarmed if this happens. Many churches that go on to significant growth have to have a time of cutting back in order togrow more. Provided you stick with the vision, God will honour it. So let us rejoice.

I still have a month left with you (my last service is the 15th April at a joint 10am service) and I look forward to spending that time worshipping God together with you.

This Sunday promises to be a great time of teaching and praise and I look forward to sharing God’s word with you.

See you Sunday

Every blessing


The Reverend Lee Townend MA
All Saints’, Ilkley
Weddings Project
Twitter: @Leethevicar
01943 430693


Avoiding regrets

Some people have been asking if it’s possible to look over the text of my sermon again from last Sunday. If you missed it here it is (along with attached slides), if you heard it on Sunday you may like to read it again and consider what action may be appropriate for you. The sermon notes are considerably shorter than the actual sermon as it misses out anecdotes and asides!

Sunday 11th March 2012


All Saints’, Ilkley

“How to avoid regrets”

Mark 1: 9-15

“’The time has come’ said Jesus, ‘The Kingdom of God is near’” Mark 1: 15

Frank Sinatra’s song My Way stayed in the charts for 75 weeks, sold around 20 million copies, covered by over 50 different artists and is one of the top songs at funerals. The reason it’s so popular is perhaps because it resonates with how we want to be. We want to be unique, stand out from the crowd, live a life that has meaning. Do it my way. One of the lines from My Way says this “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention” . Edith Piaff famously sang Je ne regret rien – I regret nothing.

For most of us though the reality is somewhat different. Many of us look back on life and often think ‘If only’.

This morning we are looking at the subject of ‘How to avoid regrets’. The scripture today offers at least two principles on ‘How to live a life without regret’.

1. Don’t delay, do it today!

“’The time has come’ said Jesus, ‘The Kingdom of God is near’” Mark 1: 15

Jesus portrays a distinct sense of urgency in this scripture.

A book has just been published by a palliative nurse entitled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”. Bronnie Ware nurses patients who have less than 12 weeks to live. Over the years she hasobserved the regrets that her patients have as they come to the end of their lives. Here’s the five regrets she’s witnessed most often:-

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

What would your biggest regret be if this was the last day of your life? Don’t delay, do it today!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs

Don’t delay, do it today!

In the scriptures we read that time is of the essence. Throughout Mark’s gospel there’s a real sense of urgency. Jesus said, “The time has come…” Mark 1: 15 He’s saying that there’s some things we need to do NOW. Don’t delay, do it today!

For Jesus, and conversely for us too, one of the single most important things in His life was deliberately put right at the start of Mark’s gospel – it was the first piece of ministry we find Him doing – it is the most urgent thing He came to do – it comes before healing and any of the miracles in Mark’s Gospel – so what’s this thing that’s so urgent for Jesus to do? ’“Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God” Mark 1: 14 Sharing the Gospel is the first and most important thing Jesus chooses to do. He puts it right upthere. It makes me ask myself how urgent am I at sharing the good news? How urgent are you?

It is said that a week is a long time in politics. In football, however, a single day is a very long time! A few weeks ago Harry Redknapp woke up with the distinct possibility that he could be facing a lengthy prison sentence. By the time he went to bed he faced the distinct possibility that he could be the next England manager! Time moves quickly.

The scripture encourages a sense of urgency in life – especially when it comes to sharing your faith.

Somebody once said “Don’t count every hour in the day; make every hour in the day count.”

Many Christians fear failure so they don’t get things done. Sometimes they vacillate between one set of options and another. That procrastination means that opportunities are missed “Far better is it to dare mighty things, even though chequered by failure, than to dwell in that perpetual twilight that knows not victory or defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

Jesus said “The time has come”.

Are there things you need to do now, even things you’re afraid of? Is there someone you need to witness to? Someone you need to tell about God? Or is it something else? Don’t delay do it today!

2. Urgency relieves emergency!

“Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1: 15

Steve Jobs, on his deathbed, as his life was ebbing away, with his family surrounding him uttered his final words. Steve Jobs last words were these ‘Wow! Wow! Wow!” Now this could mean anything but some Christians have interpreted this as a deathbed conversion and his words were uttered at the sight of Jesus. Who knows?

One thing we do know is that we cannot rely on turning to Jesus at the last moment if we want salvation. This is what Jesus said about those who think they can leave it till the last moment “A man said to himself ‘I have plenty of good things laid up for myself for many years….I will take life easy; I will eat drink and be merry’ But God said to Him, ’You fool. This very night your life will be demanded from you’” Luke 12: 19-20

We cannot rely on deathbed conversions for our friends and family (or even ourselves) – do it now. Urgency relieves emergency!

But it’s more than that. Those of us who are in a true relationship with Christ know that our faith in Christ is not just about the end times. We have a faith inside that no matter what comes our way we have an internal joy that nothing can overcome.

STETHOSCOPE YOUTUBE CLIP (if you want to watch this click here )

Jesus said “Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1: 15 Those who have find no matter what comes there way there is a Hallelujah coirus within them that nothing can diminish

I want to gently ask this morning if this is speaking to you. Perhaps you’ve been coming to church for a while but never really known that joy in your heart.Perhaps you’re not really sure whether you actually are a Christian or not. Perhaps you would really like to have that sense that God is with you?

(Invite people to come forward for prayer).

The Reverend Lee Townend MA
All Saints’, Ilkley
Weddings Project
Twitter: @Leethevicar
01943 430693

Sunday 11th March 2012.ppt



I wonder what you think of this statement ‘In order to go forward sometimes you have to retreat‘?

Yesterday I had the absolute privelege of spending a day’s retreat at Alnmouth Friary in Northumberland.

The journey there was swift and the weather when I arrived was just amazing. The sun was a brilliant yellow against a backdrop of a crystal clear blue sky. The Friary sits on a headland overlooking the sea and the sun’s rays were bouncing off the sea and reflecting directly on to the Friary’s chapel walls. It couldn’t have been more idyllic.

There was such a warm greeting at the door by Brother Desmond adorned in his plain brown Franciscan habit. He made me feel really at home and told me to just enjoy the space.

I knew I was in for a beautiful day.

I went into the chapel which directly overlooks the golden beach and the wide expanse of sea and sky. As I settled down I turned to the scriptures and opened the Bible in Mark. The first words that struck me were these words from Jesus “Come with me, by yourself, to a quiet place and get some rest” Mark 6: 31

Those words, it seemed to me, were spoken directly into my heart. Jesus was saying this is what a retreat is all about.

Come with me… The first purpose of a retreat is to spend time with Jesus. A retreat is not about being pampered as it would be if you went for a spa day at a country hotel. In fact a day away with Jesus gives you far more energy and renewal than a day of massages and treatments. The aim of a Christian retreat is to get into the presence of Christ. And the key thing to note is that it is Jesus who is leading you – Come with me. It’s Jesus who wants to take you away so that He can give you all that He wants to give you.

…by yourself… In order to retreat well it’s important, Jesus says, to go away on your own. Sometimes you can take a retreat with others but getting away on your own with Jesus is vital. This also relates to leaving behind the people and things that occupy your mind. Sometimes things just so occupy your mind that it’s as though they are there with you. This is not always easy. But if we have leaving them behind as an intention then Jesus can deal with it through His Spirit. One way that has helped me to leave behind the things and people that concern me is to ensure that I have at least an hours journey to get to my retreat. That way, as the train covers the miles, it gives you time to lay down everything before you go into the day. I often find that once I come back from retreat the people and things that were concerning me beforehand are all put into a new perspective as a result of the day away.

…to a quiet place… The Friary at Alnmouth is a perfect location for quiet. I’ve also found places like Scargill House or the Briery in Ilkley to be very useful too as a quiet place. They only charge a relatively small amount of money for the whole day and are quite used to people booking in for a day’s retreat. I once had a day’s retreat at a country pub where I knew that hardly anybody would be present (I drank coffee all day I hasten to add – and I didn’t tell them I was on a ‘retreat’ they just thought I was doing a lot of reading and thinking!). Equally a quiet place could be your sitting room when everyone’s gone out or even a day in the hills as long as its dedicated to being with God.

…and get some rest… Sleep. One of the things I love about a day’s retreat is the opportunity to sleep. I had a little doze in the morning and a little one after lunch. Exquisite. Sometimes I fall asleep while reading the scriptures and afterwards I think it’s the most wonderful thing to have gone to sleep with the Word of God immediately in my heart. But getting some rest is ultimately about resting in Christ. Resting in His Word. Resting in prayer. It’s amazing how refreshed you feel afterwards.

Now not all of us are in jobs where we can do this in the middle of the week but we could do it on a Saturday or even take a days holiday. If you would like to know more about organising a day retreat then do please speak to me and I’ll let you know how to go about it. A day’s retreat is a really good thing to do periodically as is to take an even longer retreat whenever possible.

Equally retreat should be part of our everyday existence. Everyday we need to find a small time, by yourself, in a quiet place and rest in the presence of God. Everyday we need to get those few minutes or half an hour with the scriptures and in prayer. This is the thing that will give life, renewal and energy as we journey forward.

I’m preaching this weekend on the subject of ‘How to avoid regrets’ and the text, if you want to read it in advance, is Mark 1: 9-15. As a way of preparing for the talk may I ask you to consider in advance what things in your life you have regretted?

Really looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Every blessing


The Reverend Lee Townend MA
All Saints’, Ilkley
Weddings Project
Twitter: @Leethevicar
01943 430693



It’s Thursday afternoon and I’ve just got back from taking Mabel out for her walk and the woods are looking fantastic.

The sun is shining through the trees and the buds are ripening nicely. Bright green shoots of new growth are everywhere. The birds are in full song.

Spring is upon us. Yes there’ll still be lots of cold days, maybe snow too, but Spring has begun.

One of the things that I’ve always loved about living in England is the changing seasons. Every February we go to visit Hodsock Priory to see their amazing snowdrop walk. As we move into March the daffodils begin to bloom in our garden (in fact some of them are already out). As the sun begins to get a little warmer we move on into May and the woods are just blanketed in the most wonderful display of bluebells. The Summer is fantastic in Yorkshire too and so is the Autumn. The winter can be a little bleak here but nonetheless it has a beauty of its own – especially as you look out to the moor with that special afternoon Winter sunlight.

Seasons are wonderful.

The churches seasons are wonderful too. Each one allows us to think of an aspect of Christ’s life more fully. Lent, the season we have just started, has that special penitential flavour that contrasts sharply with the Easter celebrations.

One thing we know about seasons, whether they are ecclesiastical or earthly, is that they change. Seasons, by the very name, do not last forever. There is something comforting about that for me. Solomon wrote this in Ecclesiastes chapter 3:-

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

There is, Solomon says, a time for everything. As you look through that list ask yourself what time am I in right now? Is it a time of conflict as in the latter part of verse 8? Are you rejoicing as in part of verse 4? Where are you right now?

Some of this material at first glance might seem a little strange. For example why does it say there is a time to hate when Christians are called to love? The answer here is that there is indeed a time to hate – that is to hate the injustice in the world and hate wrongdoing. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Perhaps you may like to consider some of the other trickier parts of this scripture and ask yourself what does it mean?

The comfort for me from these verses and from the changing seasons is quite simple. No matter what I’m going through (pain, hardship, difficulty) these are only temporary seasons. God in His grace has made everything to have it’s moment and that’s all. There is a time to weep but that weeping will turn into joy. God is so good.

As I write I know that there is another case of books waiting to be packed. Yes, we are still a long way from moving but the process of packing has tentatively started. Moving from church to church (or in my case to a completely new role in another diocese) always brings a profound sense of sadness and loss. There is a very real sense of bereavement as we say goodbye to friends, ministry, places, work and a church we have grown to care for. But that sadness is eased by our great God who makes all things seasonal. The only thing that is eternal is Him and we who will come to Him.

So, whatever you are going through now please know that it is not forever.

On Sunday we have two very special guests with us at all the services when Jill and Liz from The Sanctuary will be joining us. They won’t be preaching (trainee reader Dawn has that honour) but they will be sharing some of the exciting and Godly work that they are involved in. It will be a great opportunity to get to know them better and to welcome them, warmly and loving, to our fellowship. Let’s make them feel really at home with us.

Really looking forward to being with you on Sunday and to sharing worship with you.

Every blessing


The Reverend Lee Townend MA
All Saints’, Ilkley
Weddings Project
Twitter: @Leethevicar
01943 430693

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