Church leaders meet to discuss Le Tour

Bishop James Bell and a group of church cyclists from Harrogate who have been touring part of the route (s)
Bishop James Bell and a group of church cyclists from Harrogate who have been touring part of the route (s)

Religious leaders from across the north joined a standing room-only Harrogate meeting designed to step up church involvement in the 2014 Tour de France.

Churches are hoping to be firmly on two wheels by the time the biggest event ever to reach the district pedals in July.

Discussions are under way to ensure church bells on the Tour route will be rung in sequence during the 100-day Cultural Festival which starts in March.

Many hope they will be able to host hog roasts, organise festivals and even suspend bicycles from church towers in a bid to welcome Le Tour when the district hosts the opening stages on July 5-6.

Over 180 leaders from centres lining the route flocked to the Le Tour Le Church Le Welcome meeting, led by Bishop of Knaresborough Rt Rev James Bell.

They swapped ideas and discussed how churches could add to the Tour experience.

Canon John Carter is Communications Officer for the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds,.

He said: “The fact that people travelled, in some cases more than 100 miles to come to this meeting in Harrogate shows a great enthusiasm from many different churches to get on board.

“We had not only Anglican churches but Methodist, URC, Baptist, free churches and Roman Catholic churches represented and lots of positive and innovative ideas which we will be sharing over the coming weeks and months.”

Further ideas mooted at the gathering included organising brass bands, pop-up tea shops, children’s events and special open-air church services.

It is possible leaders could organise the provision of extra camping facilities for visitors.

A team from Welcome to Yorkshire presented at the event held at Christ Church.

John Carter added that leaders are keen to provide the world with information about all the churches on the route via the media.

He said: “As we have heard during the evening, the eyes of the world will be on Yorkshire and churches have a tremendous opportunity to show hospitality, creativity and welcome to visitors.

“Helicopters will be filming some of our most beautiful and historic buildings from above and we want to be able to say something not only about their history but about the living communities and the faith which each of these churches represents.”

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