Church celebrates cycle of life

A Sheffield church is gearing up for the arrival of the Tour de France in the city in spectacularly appropriate fashion.

The congregation of All Saints, Ecclesall, is aiming to set a record for the number of people cycling to church.

Vicar, the Rev Gary Wilton, on his bike in the church.

Vicar, the Rev Gary Wilton, on his bike in the church.

The vicar, the Rev Gary Wilton, believes at least 500 people will turn up on two wheels on Sunday, June 8.

“We are having a Cycle to Church Sunday,” he said. “We are trying to create a record for the largest number of people cycling to a service. They will each be given a certificate during the service, and we are planning to have 500 certificates. But we could produce a lot more certificates, which would be a wonderful problem to have.”

Mr Wilton was inspired by preparations for the Tour de France, which passes through Sheffield on July 6.

There was encouragement from a member of the congregation, Rod Ismay, who is involved in the Yorkshire cultural festival linked to the Tour.

Cycles will be brought through the Anglican church, which the vicar describes as a “mini cathedral”, seating up to 600.

The congregation is spread across Sheffield, which means that some will have longer cycle rides than others.

Living in the vicarage, Mr Wilton says: “I have got the shortest bike journey. I’ll need to do a couple of laps of the parish.” He will be joined by his wife, Gillian, also a priest, and children, Alex, 20, and Simeon, 17.

The theme of the service at 11am on Pentecostal Sunday, also known as Whit Sunday, will be the wind and the spirit. “We’ll be thinking about the Holy Spirit and having the energy and direction in our own lives.”

Money will be raised for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

“I’m really excited about the day and looking forward to seeing the church full of people in their cycling kit,” added Mr Wilton. “We think this is the first time any church has tried to do it.”

The vicar arrived in Ecclesall nine months ago after serving as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the European Union, based at the Anglican Cathedral in Brussels.

An “aspirational cyclist, he said:”Sadly I only tend to use a stationary bike in the gym. But I have been wheeling my bike into church since Easter Sunday to grab people’s attention.”