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Services for Special Days in the Year

Throughout the year, we hold services to celebrate special days in the Christian calendar and to mark different seasons and times of the year.  As a rural community, the seasonal services are often linked with farming.   Here is a brief summary of all our special services throughout the year.  For further details and specific dates of these services, please see our Forthcoming Events page

Other special services not offered at St Stephen's may be offered at our sister church, St Michael's, Carleton, Pontefract



Epiphany  held on the Sunday nearest to 6th January, when we celebrate the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus.

Plough Sunday usually on the second Sunday of January, when we ask God's blessing on the work of our farmers throughout the coming year.  An old plough is brought into church and a modern tractor and plough stands outside in the churchyard.

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Ash Wednesday  Marks the beginning of Lent, which lasts for 40 days. During Lent, people will often choose to give up something they enjoy as an act of self-denial.   A special services is usually held at our sister church, St Michael's in Carleton, during which the sign of the cross will be marked on the forehead of parishioners using ash.  The ash is traditionally made by burning the palm crosses from the previous year.  It is a sign of repentance as we begin our spiritual preparation for Easter. 

Mothering Sunday is a service to celebrate motherhood.  We remember Jesus' mother, Mary and our own mothers.  Traditionally people give their mothers cards and gifts on this day and in church we are no different.  Mothers in the congregation are given a small posy of flowers to take home.  Mothering Sunday is also the day when those of us who have given up something for Lent, can be slightly less observant for the day.  

Maundy Thursday  A service to remember the last supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.  During the service, which is sometimes held at our sister church, St Michael's in Carleton, anyone who wishes can come forward to have their feet or hands washed.  It is a sign of loving and serving others, as Jesus did.  


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Palm Sunday To mark the time when Jesus rode into Jerusalem before his crucifixion, our morning service starts with a gathering in the centre of the village and a procession to church.  The church is decorated with palm leaves to represent the way palm leaves were waved and thrown into Jesus's path as he entered the city.

Good Friday marks the crucifixion of our Lord.  A special service called Stations of the Cross is held in the morning.  The service begins outside in the churchyard and then moves around the inside of the church saying special prayers to mark the journey Christ took, carrying his cross to Calvary

Easter Sunday  The most important festival of the Christian calendar, when we remember that Christ died for us and is risen again, that our sins may be forgiven and we may have everlasting life.  Easter is a lovely, happy celebration for us all to enjoy.  

We usually have tea and cakes after this service to share our joy at the resurrection. 



Ascension Day service is held on the Thursday which falls 40 days after Easter to mark the time when Jesus left his disciples on earth and ascended into heaven.  

Pentecost (sometimes known as Whit Sunday) is the day on which the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This is often a popular day for baptisms or confirmation.  In church, we wear something red to represent the tongues of fire which appeared over the heads of the disciples when they received the spirit.


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Harvest Festival celebrating God's gift of the harvest, the food he provides for us.  Harvest produce is brought into church for distribution to members of the community who are old or sick.  The church is decorated with flowers, fruit and vegetables.  We usually have a special home-baked bread for the communion.  


Remembrance Sunday when we remember those who gave their lives in the wars.  After a slightly shorter morning service, we gather at the war memorial in the village to lay wreaths and plant individual crosses in memory of service men and women who lived in East Hardwick. 



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Barn Service  a special carol service held in the barn of one of our local farms, where we ask for God's blessing on our animals.  People bring horses and pets along and enjoy carols, followed by mulled wine and mince pies.  This is usually the first of our Christmas events. In association with Ackworth Riding for the Disabled.  A collection is taken for the Brooke Animal Hospital.

Carol Service  An evening service of carols and readings, usually held on the Friday before Christmas

Crib/Christingle Service A children's nativity service held in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, with blessing of the crib and nativity stories.  Also includes the making of Christingles.  Everyone welcome, especially families.

Christmas Eucharist held on Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus with readings and carols

St Stephen's Day  on 26th December - a special service to celebrate the festival of our patron saint

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