Carnival comes to Durham parishes
Two parishes in Durham are marking the start of Lent with a difference this weekend.
Instead of the traditional pancakes, Belmont and Pittington are hosting a carnival themed weekend of events inspired by the Mardi Gras celebrations.
The parishes have teamed up with the local Beaver Scouts for the events, which got underway at St Mary Magdalene Church, Belmont, this morning.
Events kicked off with a morning communion service with a "carnival twist", held jointly with sister parish St Laurence Pittington.
Vicar Miranda Threlfall-Holmes said there would be lots of music and crafts.
"Traditionally around the world, Lent as a time of self-denial has been framed by great celebrations before and after, emphasising the contrast of the seasons," she said.
"We wanted to revive this sense of holding celebration and fasting together, and do it in a way that is engaging for young families and those in our neighbourhoods who don't have a habit of churchgoing."
The local Beaver Scouts are combining attending the weekend's activities and service with an all- night Beaver Sleepover, and will be leading the prayers in the service on Sunday morning.
They will also be tested on their Faith Badge over the weekend.
Rev Threlfall-Holmes said: "Belmont Scouting and Guiding are flourishing and as church-sponsored groups they already have a strong relationship with the church.
"We are building on that to ensure that all have the opportunity to learn more about their faith and the traditions of the church, and to build their confidence in public speaking and performance by leading parts of the services."
As the national Scout movement consults on whether to remove reference to God from the Promise made by new members, Rev Threlfall-Holmes expressed her hope that they would stick with the status quo.
"I was a Brownie and a Guide myself and made those promises and attended monthly Church Parade services, even though at the time I wouldn't have called myself a Christian," she said.
"I think the inclusion of God in the Promises calls attention to a wider view of the world, and a sense that everyone is equally and uniquely valuable.
"I think children normally have a much deeper sense of holiness and mystery than we adults often give them credit for."