Pastor Beth Tash returns to her old haunts as 'pioneering minister' to the night-time economy
Six years after clubbing the night away in Leeds as a student, a young Anglican pastor is returning to her former haunts – as "pioneering minister" to the night-time economy.
Beth Tash, 27, is taking on hundreds of after-dark venues in the Yorkshire city as a new form of parish, as part of a scheme already serving the local business community and residents of city centre flats.
The archdeacon of Leeds, the Ven Peter Burrows, said: "If you go into Leeds on any Friday or Saturday night and see the huge number of young people coming into the city, it is obvious that the church isn't engaging with the club culture. Because of that, this is a very significant and exciting appointment."
Funded centrally by the Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, Tash is being left free to sort out her best approach in nightclubs which include the appropriately named Mission.
In addition to club chilling-out rooms, the city may get a round-the-clock "sacred space".
Tash, already known to young people in Leeds as a youth pastor at St George's church, plans to spend a few months getting to know club and bar staff, before reaching out to revellers on the streets.
"There are boundless possibilities for a message of life and a mission of love," she said. "Leeds has a great reputation among students and young people which I've personally enjoyed – great music and great venues. I like the atmosphere – it's quite chilled out. It's going to be very interesting seeing it from the perspective of the people who run the venues or put on the events."
Applying her faith on the streets of Leeds after dark is in keeping with the tradition of St George's, whose crypt shelter for homeless people, founded in 1930 by charismatic vicar Don Robins, is one of the most admired in the UK.
Tash's initiatives are likely to include putting on church events, on the lines of a music festival jointly organised with Methodists and East Leeds FM radio.