Whitsun in Whitby by Eleanor Course

One thousand five hundred especially invited people will join the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, and the Bishop of Whitby, the Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner, at Whitby Abbey to celebrate the birthday of the Christian Church.  Churchgoers from the North East of England will join a procession leading up 199 steps to the Abbey on Saturday 26 May, the day before Whit Sunday, also known as Pentecost.

In the afternoon, members of the public are invited to a Question and Answer session with the Archbishop in St Mary’s Church, Whitby at 3pm.

The day will begin at 10.45am, when Archbishop Sentamu arrives at Whitby RNLI Lifeboat Station onboard the charity’s Trent-class lifeboat George and Mary Webb, where he will give a short address. Representatives from Cleveland churches, carrying banners especially made for the service will lead the Archbishop from the quayside to the Abbey.


As the procession makes its way up the 199 steps, the congregation will be entertained with music, and art and craft workshops will be on hand for young people.  The Communion Service will also include music and drama, with contributions from young people across Cleveland.  A collection will be taken in aid of the Diocese of False Bay (South Africa) and the RNLI.  Representatives from False Bay who are visiting the Archdeaconry of Cleveland will also be attending the service.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to Jesus’ first disciples meant a celebration of new life for the Church. For this reason, Whit Sunday, or Pentecost, is often called the birthday of the Church. Our service at the Abbey gives a great opportunity to pray for a new life by the spirit of God, which is both life changing and life transforming. Let us be the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

The Bishop of Whitby, the Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner said: “Whitby Abbey is hugely important to the history of Christianity in Britain, so it’s really appropriate that we’re celebrating Whitsun here.  Like any birthday, Pentecost is a joyous occasion, and I hope our service at the Abbey will have a real party atmosphere.”

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