The Archbishop of York has bestowed Minster status on England’s largest parish church in an open-air service that drew thousands into the heart of Hull.
Dr John Sentamu proclaimed Holy Trinity Church as Hull Minster during a day of celebrations in the city’s Old Town following a symbolic voyage into Hull.
The Archbishop began a momentous day for Hull and its civic church by sailing down the Humber estuary on board the trawler My Mate, at the head of a flotilla of vessels, carrying a lantern with a flame lit at Holy Trinity’s “mother” church, All Saints in Hessle, East Yorkshire.
The passage harked back to 700-year-old Holy Trinity’s medieval origins and also celebrated Hull's rich maritime heritage.
Dr Sentamu later mingled with supporters of the church and members of the public during an afternoon of music, entertainment and festivities in the newly-revamped Trinity Square.
An estimated 3,000 people then thronged the square for the formal service of re-designation. Following the service, guests and well-wishers filed inside to see the Archbishop light a symbolic Minster candle with the flame carried from All Saints and experience a magnificent building undergoing a remarkable transformation.
The status of Minster is an honorific title bestowed on major churches of regional significance in the Church of England, to reflect their importance and contribution to the local communities they serve. The honour was bestowed on Holy Trinity in recognition of the church’s inspiring regeneration, physically and spiritually, and the exciting progress of the church’s £4.5m development project.
Speaking in his sermon Dr Sentamu said: “In this re-designation, God by his spirit is doing a new thing – offering to all who receive it a fresh start with God and with each other in this City of Culture 2017.
“The purpose of Hull Minster is to be a conduit to God for the prayers of the city of Hull and all humankind. It’s to this that you are called. To become a people of prayer, a people of praise, a people of service, a people of worship and witness, a people of power because the Holy Spirit of God dwells in you as individuals and more so as a body of believers.”
The Vicar of Hull Minster, the Rev Canon Dr Neal Barnes, said: “It has been an enormous privilege for me to be Vicar on such a historic day for the church and the city of Hull.
“It has been a great joy that we have been able to share the day with so many people from Hull and further afield. We are immensely grateful to the crowds of people who made the pilgrimage to Trinity Square and contributed to an unbelievable atmosphere.
“We want to thank everyone who has played a part in making today as special as it has been, especially to all our incredibly dedicated volunteers. Huge thanks are also due to Hull Marina and the marina’s boat owners for the spectacular flotilla on the Humber - the first since the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
“Today has left us all with so many great memories and will encourage us to move into the future with a spring in our step, as we continue to enjoy the City of Culture year and the wonderful renaissance of our city.”
The re-dedication of Holy Trinity as Hull Minster is one of the keynote events during Hull’s year in the national and international spotlight as UK City of Culture. The church’s new status is also the latest boost to the city’s profile and reputation.
The Lord Mayor of Hull, Councillor Sean Chaytor, paid tribute to the church’s role at the centre of the city’s spiritual, community and civic life and added: “This is an auspicious and important day for Hull and one I am honoured to be a part of.”
Councillor Stephen Brady, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “This is an incredibly important day, not just for Neal Barnes and his team, but for the city of Hull.
“Holy Trinity has always been a huge draw for visitors, but its new status as Hull Minster will elevate this to a new level and to have the accolade awarded during our year as UK City of Culture is a real coup.
“I am really proud of the strong partnership between Hull City Council and Hull Minster and I am looking forward to seeing Trinity Square and the wider Old Town welcoming a whole host of new visitors as the area springs back to life.”