Over the course of 2011, I was lucky enough to be asked to work with the Seacroft Women’s Fellowship – a group of women who meet every week at Seacroft Methodist Chapel in East Leeds. The fellowship has been in existence since the Second World War, with an ever changing group of members.
The chapel itself is rarely used and is currently in a state of slight disrepair. However, the lovely people at East Leeds FM have been using it as an occasional base from which broadcast. Over the past few years they’ve put on a whole variety of events – everything from music gigs to storytelling and poetry nights and there’s lots of info about the kind of work that’s gone on there on their website at: http://www.elfm.co.uk/
The station is hoping to take the chapel over as a permanent base of operations, with the chapel itself being renovated and turned into a recording studio. If they can find the rest of the funding they need this will hopefully happen sometime during the next couple of years.
Although the chapel itself is no longer a regular place of worship, the building is still used by the local community and the Women’s Fellowship still meets there every Tuesday afternoon.
I was asked to come and work with the fellowship on a radio programme that could be broadcast by ELFM and which would celebrate the life of the chapel and acknowledge the religious community based there.
To that end, I spent a number of weeks, meeting and talking with the members of the fellowship, gathering their stories and asking questions to get a feel for what that programme might be. In the end we decided that we wanted to put on a service of celebration for the work of the group, which would include the ladies’ favourite hymns and bible stories, as well as some of the material I’d been gathering.
This took place on Sunday the 13th of November and if it’s of interest, you can have a listen on-line at:
The ladies’ stories were read by actors and we had a congregation made up of people from the other Methodist Churches in Leeds.
It was a real honour to work with the women of the fellowship- all of whom were brilliantly open and welcoming and all of whom had such wonderful stories to tell.