Archbishop of York to lead Christmas Day service for prisoners

Archbishop Dr John Sentamu at the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business awards earlier this year
Archbishop Dr John Sentamu at the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business awards earlier this year
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The Archbishop of York will lead a Christmas Day morning service for inmates at a North Yorkshire prison.

Dr John Sentamu will spend time with staff and prisoners at Kirklevington Grange open prison near Yarm on December 25 as part of his six month pilgrimage walk across the Diocese of York.

For those who are in prison, who are lonely, who feel lost or abandoned – they are all stand-ins for Jesus Christ.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York

The Archbishop, who was a prison chaplain before coming he rose through the church ranks, will also visit a local nursing home and say prayers outside Yarm Town Hall as part of his pilgrimage through the area.

He began the sixth-month Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing on December 1, and will finish at York Minster on Trinity Sunday - May 22 next year, having walked across the Diocese of York, which spans the Humber to the Tees and from the A1 to the coast.

John Sentamu: A pilgrim’s progress in the company of Christ

Archbishop Sentamu said: “I was a Prison Chaplain once and as Bishop for Stepney used to go into the two local prisons on Christmas Day. I was reminded of Matthew 25: ‘I was in prison and you came to visit me’.

“On Christmas Day, I will be telling all at Kirklevington of the love of God in Jesus Christ for each one of us. For those who are in prison, who are lonely, who feel lost or abandoned – they are all stand-ins for Jesus Christ.

“You can encounter Christ everywhere, even in prison! The birth of Jesus of Nazareth reminds us that God is in the business of making all things new. All of us can make a fresh start with God and with one another today.”

HMP Kirklevington is an adult men’s open prisons, focused on developing links with families and the wider community. Its aim is to prepare prisoners for their release, addressing offending behaviour and encouraging responsibility for actions.

Angie Petit, acting governor at HM Prison and YOI Kirklevington Grange said: “We are delighted to welcome the Archbishop – it is a particular pleasure to have His Grace here on Christmas Day which is always a challenging day for both those residing and working in prison, separated from family. I am sure he will see the atmosphere of hope we provide here, with opportunities to prepare for successful release into the community and we wish him well with his onward pilgrimage in the North East.”

Following his visit to the prison, the Archbishop will continue his Pilgrimage and will be visiting Ayresome Court Nursing Home in Yarm before saying prayers outside Yarm Town Hall at around 1pm.