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4:52 PM 21st February 2020

Bradford Church Scoops Prize In National Photography Competition

St Stephen’s church in West Bowling was due to be demolished but survived and last July held a service to celebrate its reopening.

A photograph capturing the joyful occasion, taken by church member Hannah Owens, has been named one of nine regional winners in Ecclesiastical Insurance’s Parish Pixels competition.

The winning photograph of St Stephen’s church
The winning photograph of St Stephen’s church
The church receives £1,500 as North East winner and is in with a chance of scooping the top prize of £5,000 if it is named national winner later this year.

Rev Canon Jimmy Hinton said: “The church was scheduled for demolition but it was kept open, and is now thriving, with refugee groups, a job club, drop-in support groups, a children’s clothes bank, and much, much more. We’re in an area of high deprivation, where people can live quite messy, chaotic lives. In the same way that Genesis describes God creating beauty out of chaos, we believe that it is possible to turn chaos into something beautiful, through God.”

As part of the reopening, the church invested £60,000 in a new heating system and new flooring, which meant the previously cold church can now be used every day of the week, all year round.

“£60,000 is a huge amount of money here,” said Jimmy. “And it was a true community effort. Most of the people in the area are from a Pakistani Muslim background, but everyone got involved – for instance, the local exercise group, which is predominantly Asian ladies, did a sponsored 24 hour exercise to raise funds – and everyone calls it “our church”.

“I was surprised and overjoyed that we won – the prize will come in very handy indeed – and I think it’s a lovely photograph. It’s authentic and candid – it shows our family, and reflects the joy of discovering the love and grace of God.”

Parish Pixels was launched last summer, inviting Anglican churches in England, Wales and Scotland to capture the essence of their church in a single snapshot, accompanied by a one-sentence caption.

The competition attracted more than 600 entries, and a panel of judges, featuring representatives from the regions, selected the nine winners from across the UK.

The public will now be given the chance to vote for their favourite image before Ecclesiastical and church representatives select an overall winner. The overall winner will receive a £5,000 prize for the church.

Michael Angell, Church Operations Director at Ecclesiastical, said: “The response to the competition was fantastic and we received many incredible images showing the diverse range of people, places and features that make Anglican churches so special.
“These nine regional winners really stood out to the judges and we’re now urging the public to show their support for their local church to be crowned as national winner.”

To vote for your favourite church, simply show your support and vote online www.ecclesiastical.com/parishpixels