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Our J2 (Year 5) pupils have been learning about different parts of churches as part of their Religious Studies lessons.

Their topic led them on a trip around York, exploring the city’s churches and how they each emphasised different aspects of the building.

The children started their visit at All Saints, North Street which is a high Anglican Church. Pupils saw five altars and one pulpit, which showed that the Church saw the Mass or Holy Communion as more important than preaching.  Pupils enjoyed this highly decorated church with its portrayals of the saints and admired the early stained glass windows.

Church windows

The group then moved on to St Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church in Deangate.  This is a nineteenth century Catholic Church where the altar appears to be more important than the pulpit.  The pupils were introduced to the idea of confession and the use of confessional boxes.  They also admired the Stations of the Cross which in sequence are illustrated around the church.

York Central Methodist Church was the next venue, where pupils admired its elegant simplicity and how the size of the pulpit and the dominant place the preacher stood illustrated that preaching and the sermon in this church was most important aspect of worship. 

Finally, the children visited Holy Trinity, Goodramgate where the box pews in which some members of the congregation would have their backs to the altar, again emphasised the importance of preaching in what is a Puritan Church.  The altar and hence the Eucharist was certainly secondary when Holy Trinity had a congregation.

John Dodsworth, Head of Religious Studies, said: “The pupils are now able to recognise things like an altar, a lectern and a pulpit.  They have also gained knowledge as to how churches are set out and where various parts of church furniture might be found.  Our visit to four churches was to reinforce this knowledge, add to it and start to think about how different churches, all within the Christian tradition differ, and how and why they put a different emphasis on different pieces of church furniture.

“Thinking about the questions they asked, our J2s certainly appeared to enjoy our visit and hopefully it increased their knowledge and understanding.  It also introduced them to some of the hidden corners of York.”