Volunteers from two churches have been praised for their efforts after making meals for those who have been isolated and vulnerable during the pandemic.

Father David Stephenson, vicar of St James in Haslingden and St Thomas’ in nearby Musbury, together with his Curate Father Andrew Holmes and an army of volunteers have been making ‘simple, good honest home-cooked food’ for people in the county that have been isolated and vulnerable during the lockdown.

Their efforts have been praised by the Diocesan Bishop Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, who described the service as being reflective of the aims of our Diocesan ‘Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’.

Since their cooking marathon began, more than 2000 meals have been served in hot and frozen form by the St James’ and St Thomas’ team, amounting to around 150 meals a week.

Father David said: “All of our projects and activities begin with prayer, so I’d have to say that the inspiration comes from God.

“Our churches, like so many, have this great feeding tradition.

“We’re also blessed with a really willing band of volunteers who have a passion for the community, it’s people and their Christian calling.”

The catering service being offered by the parishes is indicative of very many similar initiatives quietly taking place all over Lancashire at this time of pandemic, as churches seek to support people’s physical as well as spiritual needs.

Father Andrew added: “There was a history of catering and church meals already in the parishes and folk were obviously missing the social aspect of the church too.

“We were also conscious of the loneliness some were feeling and the need to support those who may be struggling or may be vulnerable in our community.

“Our food ministry is one way the Church can show that love in action and, in doing this work, we’re helping our church to have a really healthy, outward-looking focus.”

Commenting on the work at St James’ and St Thomas’ Bishop Julian said: “I want to thank everyone in the parishes who has contributed to serving their communities in such a practical and helpful way.

“Since I came to Lancashire to become Bishop of Blackburn in 2013, I have witnessed and heard about countless selfless acts for the greater good of local communities in the County.

“People in our churches and schools quietly get on with the business of serving others in so many ways every day and, in so doing, they become faithful witnesses for Jesus Christ to so many.

“This cooking initiative is a great example of this active community service and I am heartened to hear how the food deliveries have been a weekly highlight for so many in lockdown. This really is our Vision 2026 in action - healthy churches transforming communities … in this particular case with hearty meals!

“It is also encouraging to hear about the plans to continue with the kitchen as we begin to unlock. I look forward to receiving an invitation to join a future ‘in person’ meal when it is possible to gather together properly again.”

To book a meal, hot or frozen, for yourself or someone else, they must be ordered by noon on the preceding Saturday each week. Book in with Fr Andrew on 07460 899451 and the service is also advertised on local social media sites.