Welcome to our new Musical Director

We are delighted to announce that we have appointed a new Musical Director, organist and choir master, whose name is Thomaz Flessenkaemper. We invite you to meet him in Hampsthwaite Community room on Saturday 2nd April at 6pm where we will serve drinks and nibbles. If you can’t make the evening, then do come along to one of our Holy Communion services 9.30am Birstwith or 11.00am Hampsthwaite on Sunday 3rd and hear him play and meet him afterwards. We look forward to many musical and exciting events in the years ahead!!

Reverend Suzy’s Installation Service

We were delighted to be able, at last, to formally welcome Reverend Suzy and her family to the Benefice at an induction service held on 28th July. With a few sensible precautions in place, the service went ahead in the newly-repaired Killinghall church and was attended by members of the three churches together with Killinghall’s patron, Sir Thomas Ingilby, and representatives of the diocese and the villages. Presided over by Bishop Helen-Ann, it was a welcome return to worship with singing, beautifully supported by a joint benefice choir.

For anyone who’s never attended an induction service, it’s a mixture of warmth and humour, symbolism and ceremony (or at least, this one was). Robert Smith, from Suzy’s previous parish, gave a delightful speech about her as he, in effect, handed over to us; Suzy received a symbolic bunch of keys by the wardens, placed her hand upon the church door and even had the unenviable task of ringing the church bell which, as everyone at Killinghall knows, is no mean feat (but she managed it with apparent ease).

It was lovely to see members of our retired clergy who have supported our churches so well during the vacancy and to hear the kind words of the representatives of the Methodist chapel and WI and our patron. Even though we weren’t able to have any real social time in the church after the service, it still felt as though we, as a united benefice, had finally said a proper (and long overdue) welcome to Suzy, Brendan, Kathryn and David.


Our famous snowdrops

Bang on time, at 9.00am on a very lovely Saturday 17 February morning a coach arrived at St Thomas a Becket Church filled with 44 Dutch Galanthophiles (snowdrop enthusiasts) on a garden tour from the Netherlands. They had come specifically to see the snowdrops in the churchyard! When I asked Hanneke, the leader of the group, how she knew about our display, she said she had found us on the internet!!!

The visitors

Never have the snowdrops been so photographed, as were the Mousey Thompson mice on the lychgates. The visitors took the opportunity to look around the whole of the churchyard, to sit on the benches overlooking the river, and to explore our wonderful church which all looked absolutely wonderful that morning. The visitors were so complimentary – I felt very proud to be part of our church and village.

Jud Charlesworth

Festive Family Fun Day

The weather outside was miserable but inside the church at Killinghall was warm and filled with festive cheer on Saturday 1st December for a family fun day.
Children from the village gathered to make festive crafts in the morning. The floor was carpeted with a layer of glitter as the children decorated Christmas cards, gingerbread biscuits and baubles.
More people joined at lunchtime for hot dogs and delicious soup followed by carols round the Christmas tree. A delicious afternoon tea rounded the day off.
There was a tombola, cake stall, sweet tree stall (with all proceeds going to Great Ormond Street Hospital), a raffle and a name the teddy competition.
The day was organised by members of the congregation who baked cakes, cooked warming soup and made delicious sandwiches.
It really was a fabulous day and lovely to see the church alive with laughter and festive cheer.
The day raised a total of £400 for the church.
More Christmas activities will take place throughout December in all four churches. Keep an eye on the upcoming events page for more information.


We had a wonderful weekend of music, hospitality, fellowship and faith at Killinghall Church over the weekend of 5th-7th October. During the weekend over three hundred adults and over one hundred children came into Church either to participate in concerts and events, and to enjoy food, fun and fellowship. We started the weekend with a joyful concert by the Killinghall C of E School Choir and Years 1 & 2, before which hot chocolate and marshmallows warmed us all up as the colder weather kicked in. Later that evening, a stirring and rousing concert was given by St Aidan’s Symphonic Wind Band with a varied repertoire and wine and nibbles were enjoyed. On Saturday, our newly restored organ was played, during which coffee and cake was served and people were able to see the beautiful Harvest displays of flowers and produce, which were gifted by the schoolchildren from Killinghall and will be taken to those in need in the village, and to the Harrogate Homeless Project. On Saturday evening, the Village Voices gave a wonderful performance and we had a Bring & Share Supper in Church. Our weekend concluded on Sunday with a traditional Harvest Service of Holy Communion and an Afternoon Tea and Favourite Hymns Sing!

Our intention was to open our Church doors and welcome people in and to offer hospitality and fellowship to all, in reflection of God’s loving welcome and gifting to us, as we then were able to give to others in His name. We think we did it!

Gospel Choir Workshop

On Saturday 22nd September, York City Gospel Choir joined us at St James’ Birstwith for a gospel singing workshop. Around thirty people from across the Benefice attended the workshop, together with the Gospel Choir. At the end of the afternoon, a concert was given by all the attendees, together with the Gospel Choir – it’s fair to say that most of those attending actually sung in the choir, but great fun was had by all in this uplifting, spirit filled, inspirational praise.

They invited anyone to join them for their regular practice at Clifton Moor on Thursday evenings and we, in turn, invited them to join us for worship whenever they would like to!

In the press!


We held a Pet Blessing Service at Killinghall Church on Sunday 16th September, to which a number of our regular congregation and schoolchildren brought their beloved pets, as well as canine visitors from the local community.  It would be fair to say that dogs outnumbered any other pet, but there were two beautiful Guinea Pigs and a tortoise among our guests too!  The service was joyful and all pets behaved themselves in an exemplary fashion – much fun was had by all.  See this link for the write up in the Harrogate Advertiser, with more photos!

New Stained Glass Window in the chancel

We will be holding a service of dedication and thanksgiving for the installation of a ‘new’ stained glass window in the chancel on Sunday 30th September at 11am. I will be joined by the former Archdeacon of Leeds, Rev Canon Paul Hooper for this special service in which the window will be blessed and celebrated.

The window has come to us through great serendipity and by God’s grace. The first we heard about it was when our former Churchwarden, Peter Capel-Cure, met with York Glaziers Trust (YGT) to discuss the needs of our current windows in terms of their preservation. The representatives from YGT noticed the clear glass window in the chancel and suggested that a window they had in storage from a decommissioned church may suit the space. They were very generously willing to let us have the window for nothing, other than the costs of altering it to fit the precise space and of transportation and installation. Following an exciting visit to YGT by Peter & Suzanne, Jud and myself, to see the window, it was decided by our Church Committee and PCC to use part of a very generous legacy from our friend and Benefactor, the late Ian Haden, to fund the necessary work to the window in order to make it fit the space and to be installed.

The history of the window with YGT began in 1975 when salvaged glass of c1910 by the London artist Henry Victor Milner (1866-1944) was relocated in York Minster clerestory window S2.1 These panels had been acquired from the demolished church of St Paul’s, Middlesbrough (built 1870, demolished 1966). The exact circumstances of the acquisition have remained unclear. These panels were removed from the Minster in 2013 and will now have a new life here. The beautiful reconstituted window depicts Jesus Christ seen in a traditional ‘blessing’ pose. In this stunning, colourful, window we see the Mother of sorrows flanked by St John, as they witness to our Lord, who is not in anguish upon the cross, but is resurrected, redeeming all creation through himself. The colours in the window pick up on the green of creation, which is reflected in the countryside around the church.

One of the unintended consequences of stained glass windows from their origins is the benefit that the window is seen, not just in its beauty from the interior as the light shines through from the outside in daylight, but in hours of darkness when, lit from the inside by electric light, the stained glass is illuminated and seen from outside the church too, increasing its influence.
The window reflects and completes the stories depicted in the other windows. It offers a beautiful symmetry and synergy with the East Window in the chancel. The dedication to our patron Saint, St Thomas a Becket, reflects the profound suffering of a martyr, brutally murdered in God’s church, for whom our church was built as a penance for those involved in uprisings from the area. Thus, the window encapsulates not only the hope of St Thomas a Becket of the love of God, for which he was prepared to die, but the act of repentance undertaken by individuals and communities which culminates in God’s forgiveness, gained by his Son, so clearly seen in this window as Jesus bestows his blessing on the world, a palpable, permanent, reminder that we are blessed and called to share His blessings with others.

We are most grateful to Ian Haden for his incredible legacy to the Benefice Churches, and whom we will remember through this window; to York Glaziers Trust for their gift, skill and generosity; to Peter Capel-Cure for his vision and tenacity; to Jud Charlesworth for her dedication in seeing the permissions for the window through the complex Faculty process; and to Rev Canon Paul Hooper for joining us as we celebrate the installation of this incredible gift to the Church and village.

Please come and join us!
Rev Chrissy Wilson

Welcome to our new Parish Administrator!

We are delighted to welcome Gill Clarke, our new Parish Administrator.  Gill will be working from the Parish Office at St John’s Bilton, giving much needed administrative support to Rev Chrissy.  Gill has been working as Parish Administrator for St John’s & St Luke’s for a couple of months, before which she had  a successful career in retail management.  Gill will provide a first line port of call for all general enquiries, as well as providing administrative assistance.

We are also very grateful indeed to Rev Simon Dowson, Rector of Bilton, for his willingness to help us to enable this post by so generously offering use of the existing Parish Office at Bilton.

Gill’s working hours are 1-3pm on Mondays and 2.30-5.30pm on Wednesdays.  Her contact details are as follows:

email: hfkbparishoffice@yahoo.com
Tel: 07840 922748


Our New Confirmees!

If there is such a word!  We are delighted to share the good news of our Confirmation service at St Thomas the Apostle, Killinghall, when four adult members of our congregations were confirmed in a special service by our Ripon Area Bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley.

Helen, Susan and Jen are members of Killinghall Church and Beth is a member of Hampsthwaite Church.  All four churches in the benefice came together for this joyful commitment to Christ that our four candidates made in coming to Confirmation.  The service was a first in the area as Bishop Helen-Ann presided whilst her husband, Myles, very kindly played the newly restored organ – a wonderful double act!

The Confirmation group met regularly with Rev Chrissy in the run up to last Sunday to prepare for their Confirmation.  Rev Chrissy said: “It is always a privilege to share in people’s Christian journeys, particularly at a time of wanting to make a greater commitment to their faith in this way. I hugely enjoyed classes, which were also attended by Jen’s baby, Fern.”

“I really valued the sessions as an opportunity to explore my faith in the wider context of my relationships as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and employee. I a looking forward to seeing what the future holds and how my Christian journey evolves,” added Jen.

Beth concluded “Being confirmed felt like a really significant moment in my walk with God. As I affirmed my faith in Jesus and felt the weight of the declarations said by me and over me, I awoke to a new awareness of (and willingness to heed) God’s call on my life. I’m excited to see what road lies ahead and to journey it with my fellow confirmees.”