New Leeds pastor aims to take Christ clubbing

A 27-year-old former youth pastor has been given the demanding job of taking Christianity to Leeds’s clubbing and bar-going masses.

Ms Beth Tash was appointed yesterday by the Church of England as ‘pioneer minister to the night time economy’ with a brief to get the Church involved with Leeds’s night life.

Ms Tash, previously youth pastor at St George’s Church, Leeds, has lived in the city for nine years and has a positive view of night life.

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“Leeds has a great reputation among students and young people and I have personally enjoyed the great music and great venues. I like the atmosphere, it’s quite chilled out. So I’ve really enjoyed it and I think it will be very interesting seeing it from the perspective of the people who run the venues or put on the events.”

She will spend time talking to staff in clubs and bars, building up links with city centre churches and bringing a “message of life and a mission of love”.

The pioneering role, she said, is a broad one.

“At one end of it is the clubbing scene which is mainly younger people and students, then there are more and more bars and restaurants which get those in their 20s and above – there can be something more conversational in that environment.

“Then there’s what’s happening on the streets and part of the role is working with the police, the council and with the Street Chaplains looking at safer streets. I’ll also be looking at whether we could put on events in the city, or have creative and visual work in the city, on the Headrow or Briggate, say, or a 24/7 ‘sacred space’ to invite people into.”

Archdeacon of Leeds Peter Burrows, who helped create the role, said: “If you go into Leeds on any Friday or Saturday night and see the huge number of young people coming into the city, it is obvious that the church isn’t engaging with the club culture. Because of that, this is a very significant and exciting appointment.”