Prayer yurt takes centre stage in minster

The Reverend Lesley Jones outside the yurt

Members of the community have been popping in this week to say a prayer in a specially-erected yurt in the Minster of Sunderland.

The tent measures around 18 feet in diameter and has been standing in the nave throughout Holy Week as a special place of worship.

The minster has been encouraging people to come in and offer a prayer for the city and the world in the context of marking the journey of Christ throughout Holy Week and beyond.

The Reverend Canon Provost Sheila Bamber said: "We have been remembering the prayer and worship of all the churches across the city during this week.

"The yurt is traditionally a place of meeting and hospitality and a symbol of journey or pilgrimage, God on the move with his people.

"We are using the yurt as a place of meeting and sanctuary and among the visitors were a group of Syrian students who met there and shared their story."

The Reverend Martin Anderson said people had found the yurt to be a "dynamic and exciting" space.

"In the hustle and bustle of daily life we need a focal point to focus on God," he said.

"In a yurt there is no hovering on the threshold or sitting on the fence - you are either 'in or out' and that has great symbolism for our relationship with God also. "

L-R John Gallager (Rear), Charley Kennedy (5), Reverend Lesley Jones (Rear), Jacob Kennedy (2), Clare Murray (rear), Andrea Outram enjoy prayers inside the yurt

The Reverend Lesley Jones, a curate, has been leading some of the prayers in the yurt this week.

"It's wonderful for me to be invited in to lead prayers here, and that's the great thing about the yurt in the minster, it's allowing us to invite people in to bring things before God and to pray together," she said.

"It echoes the story of Jesus being crucified on Good Friday to be resurrected on Easter Day and that from it 'everything changes' and we hope that this experience of prayer in the yurt allows something of that to come across."

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