Thirsk priest honoured by Archbishop of Canterbury
Each year the Archbishop of Canterbury presents a range of awards to people he considers to have given exception service to the community. Among these in 2018 was Rev Elizabeth Baxter, Executive Director of Holy Rood House in Sowerby, Thirsk, who received the Langton Award for Community Service (named after the 13thc Archbishop Stephen Langton, involved in the signing of the Magna Carta). Elizabeth and Holy Rood House are key partners in the healing ministry of the Guild, and we are thrilled that she has been given this recognition of her work and vision.
Holy Rood, a charity which Elizabeth set up in 1993 along with her husband Rev Stanley Baxter, describes itself as a Centre for Health and Pastoral Care. It has provided for many a place of refuge, refreshment, inspiration and encouragement. It is home to a small residential community and offers accommodation for up to 17 guests.
The Archbishop describes Elizabeth as “a person of vision, energy and enthusiasm, empowering and believing in people’s potential, she has inspired vocations in others, making connections between people with important gifts”.
According to the award citation, Elizabeth “established a safe place where those who are stressed or distressed – especially women who have suffered abuse – can find inner calm and peace, finding support from creative arts and therapies, counselling and spiritual accompaniment on their inner spiritual journey, and has awakened the churches to the needs of those who feel excluded or on its margins. She has composed inclusive liturgies that foster healing and belonging, choreographing creative ideas and rites of passage for both formal and informal services.”
Archbishop Welby commends her for “developing the counselling, healing and inclusion of those marginalised by the Church and for theological study of feminist theology, sexual identity and of related abuse, using this to provide the Church with improved understanding and inclusive liturgies.”
“Alongside this, she and her late husband Stanley, developed The Centre for the Study of Theology and Health, with retreats, seminars, conferences, research days and accredited training for professionals (relating) healing within the wider context of justice and peace.”
The timing of the award is highly appropriate, as Holy Rood is in the midst of its 25th anniversary celebrations. The year has already been marked by a lecture from its patron and former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and two significant publications – Elizabeth’s own collection of prayers for the Holy Rood community, and an anthology of hymns for healing.