CHOIR CHURCH COORDINATOR TAKES PROJECT INTO EXCITING NEW PHASE
By Ronnie Semley
The Church of England in Lancashire announces today the appointment of a Choir Church Coordinator by Blackburn Cathedral and The Choir Church Foundation.
Dr Rebekah Okpoti will be based at the Cathedral as part of a major new County-wide project to ‘plant’ (or start) Eucharistic congregations across Lancashire; all supporting our now well-established ‘Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’.
Up to 24 new, original, congregations (eight per year) will be established in parishes and working alongside local schools.
The aim for each congregation is for at least 25 children to become part of each Choir Church; the children being taught hymns and anthems from the choral tradition.
Choir Church will seek to share the Christian faith with children, their families, and the wider community, using the English choral tradition, prayerful teaching of the Bible and working for social justice. Rebekah will be based at Blackburn Cathedral, and help to recruit and support a team of choral musicians across Lancashire as part of planting communities.
A total of £249,530 was awarded to our diocese by the national church earlier this year to fund and get the Choir Church project off the ground – to date the largest Choir Church initiative ever attempted.
Rebekah lectures and researches in musicology at Liverpool Hope University. She is Associate Organist at Leeds Cathedral as well as being organist for St Paul’s in Longridge. Rebekah will work alongside John Robinson, Director of Music at Blackburn Cathedral, who is leading the project for the Diocese.
Also working with the project is Tom Daggett, originally from Lancashire, who is a musician of St Paul’s Cathedral and associate of the Choir Church Foundation. Tom will be involved in our project on a consultancy basis.
Speaking today, Rebekah said: “It is such a privilege to be part of the Choir Church initiative for Blackburn Diocese and based at the Cathedral.
“Choir Church is much more than singing excellent choral music to instil faith; it will also support local parishes and church schools to fully realise and revitalise the spiritual life as well as the practical needs of families who may be struggling in these difficult times.
“We will give them renewed hope through music and bring people to the Eucharist by showing faith in action. I look forward to meeting and working with many of our churches and families in Lancashire.”
The Acting Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Philip North, is ‘Project Sponsor’ and welcomed the news of the appointment today saying: “With the arrival of Rebekah this wonderful project will enter a new and exciting pioneering phase. This is a passion project for me as it’s no secret that I came to faith through the choral tradition myself.
“Music can lift the soul and inspire people in so many ways and we now have the opportunity to test how the choral tradition, with its grounding in sacramental worship, can be adapted to a ‘planting context’; connecting home, church and school in fresh new ways.”