Holy Trinity Church Ripon will be staging a city-wide Angel Festival over the first bank holiday weekend in May, inviting the whole community to get involved. The event is in support of Hope08, a national initiative celebrating churches' engagement with, and commitment to, their local communities. Businesses, shops, schools and homes are being invited to create an angel of their choice, whether 2D or 3D, and display it for everyone to see. "We're asking people to make angels, or displays featuring several angels, and to put them up all over Ripon," said Mark Tanner, Holy Trinity's vicar. "There will be prizes for entries in lots of categories, like the best angel made from recycled materials, the best angel at least 10 feet off the ground, and the best angelic shop window. If you've ever been to a scarecrow festival, it'll be a bit like that-but on a bigger scale, and more heavenly!" The idea is to get the community working together, to attract tourists to the city, and to help people to learn more about angels. "People aren't quite sure if angels are real, or if they should feel silly for believing in angels," said Revd Mark Tanner. "Well, angels most definitely are real, and they fulfil all kinds of purposes. They're God's messengers to his people on earth; they're heavenly warriors; and they watch over us. There can be confusion about angels, too: people often think, mistakenly, that we turn into angels when we get to heaven, but that's not true. To help people get inspired, we've put information about angels on the festival website, at www.angelfestival.org.uk " With the support of Ripon Independent Traders' Association and Ripon Area Business Association, the church is also encouraging shops and businesses to get involved-promoting teamwork and an opportunity for publicity. The response from early approaches to schools has been extremely positive, and over 7,000 invitations to participate are being distributed to children and young people in Ripon and the surrounding area. A team is also going in to schools delivering assemblies and lessons, and a set of PDF lesson plans and resources for teachers has been produced, available online, to use in topics as diverse as Maths, Literacy, Art, Dance and Drama, Music and SMSE. The church hopes that publicity around the event will bring extra tourists to the city to see the displays, either by wandering the streets to see what they can find, coming into the church to see displays there, or by following one of the official trail maps. After the Bishop of Knaresborough, the Rt Revd James Bell, has opened the festival on the Saturday, the church will be open for displays, refreshments and lunches until the final prize-giving, awarded by Ripon's well-know watercolour artist Alan Matthews, on Monday 5 May. Information about the festival and all the competition categories, how to get involved, inspiration about angels and what they look like, plus key dates, is at www.angelfestival.org.uk. Alternatively, people can call the church office on 01765 690930 for more information. Other churches across the UK are staging their own events for Hope08. More info is at www.hope08.com
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