Cafe Philo in York

St. Paul’s, Holgate

I’ve just had a really good week on placement at St. Paul’s, Holgate, on the SW side of York. It’s the first part of the “Fresh Expressions” course run at Cranmer. The vicar, John Lee, is a quiet personality whose understated style nevertheless goes with clear vision and strong leadership. He’s passionate about building good teams, and sees it as his task to choose people who are “better than himself” – which is a great approach to the task! Modest he may be, but he’s clearly astute in selecting and handling people.

Pig & Pastry – the location for the Cafe Philo event.

On Wednesday evening I went to a “Cafe Philo” event at the “Pig & Pastry” on Bishopthorpe Road. It’s event that grew out of a men’s Bible study run by Julian Richer, the business entrepreneur, and loosely follows the form of Cafe Philos in Paris.

There were about 40 of us there, with good supplies of food (including pork pies!). We were all invited to come up with suggestions for topics to discuss, and about 10 were put forward. These were put to a vote – we had unlimited votes, but only the top three topics were discussed. These included the power of the media – which eventually focussed on Rupert Murdoch’s influence – and on whether those on benefits should work for them.

The event was moderated by Julian himself, who is a lively and opinionated compere – more Alan Green than David Dimbleby!  Discussion flowed freely, with most people contributing at some stage or another.

It was an excellent event that would work well in different places – although the format probably appeals more to readers of broadsheet newspapers than to those of the Sun.  The church connection was not obvious, which may or may not be an advantage.

On Friday I visited the men’s Bible study which Julian runs. It was a most refreshing experience! There’s a great cameraderie amongst the guys who are there, many of whom are businessmen, and it is a relaxed environment in which both seekers and established Christians can discuss freely.

In the evening I nipped back to Durham briefly, stopping off at Greatham Creek to see the seals – which were lounging around in their usual style!

Seals at Greatham Creek

2 thoughts on “Cafe Philo in York

  1. Pingback: Shaping the Church « Notes from the river bank

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