An actor, a GP and a palliative care nurse are among contributors to the Church of England national online service this weekend to be broadcast from Liverpool and Blackburn in Lancashire.
Dean Sullivan, who played Jimmy Corkhill in the long-running Channel 4 soap Brookside, will affirm the key principles of the Christian faith in a service expected to attract thousands of viewers on Sunday and throughout the week.
Prayers will also be read by Dr Sarah Rushworth, a Merseyside GP, April Manderson, an art historian from Liverpool and palliative care nurse Anthony Walsh, from Blackburn.
The service will be led jointly by the Revd Canon Dr Rowena Pailing, who is Vice Dean and Canon Missioner of Blackburn Cathedral, and the Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, who is Rector of Liverpool. Parts of the service were filmed in Otterspool Park next to the Mersey, and outside Blackburn Cathedral.
Mark Pickering, Head Verger from Blackburn Cathedral, who is currently working packaging food parcels for the homeless, will also read a prayer, as will chorister Freyja Shoniwa and Cathedral warden Jeremy Duerden. Liverpool Parish Churchwarden Eva Cookey will give a reading.
In her sermon Rowena Pailing will call on Christians to become a ‘voice for the voiceless’ including homeless people, refugees and those living in poverty. “As a Church we are called to speak with and for others, and ensure that we represent the marginalised in public policy making,” she will say.
Dean Sullivan will talk about his experience of attending Sunday school as a child and a Church of England school in Liverpool. He is now a member of the congregation of Liverpool Parish Church, known locally as St Nick’s.
“It is wonderful to be part of a bigger family, the church family and the wider community of the Church of England, not just making new friends, but also it has enabled me to strengthen my faith, my belief in Jesus and strengthen my faith in the gospels and the gospel message.” he will say.
In a question and answer session he will speak of the ‘great pride’ he has in Liverpool and the sense of responsibility he feels as a public representative of the city.
“Liverpool is a great city, a fantastic city, and these days it attracts millions of tourists and visitors. Being part of that, of course I feel a great responsibility. I feel a great pride in Liverpool and I am very happy to represent it.”
The service, for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, will be interpreted into British Sign Language and subtitles are also available. The hymns have been contributed by singers from St Martin-in-the Fields Church in London and Blackburn Cathedral. All contributions were recorded separately in accordance with the rules on physical distancing.
A PRAYER FOR ALL THOSE AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.