This year the Revd Mark Hutson, Pioneer Minister in the Wolds Gateway and his colleague, the Revd Pam Reeves, wanted to choose a Lent course that befitted the times we are living in and decided upon 'Broken - a six-week study course', which was developed by Dr Paula Gooder, a writer and lecturer in Biblical Studies who is currently the Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The discussion material uses themes from the series of six episodes written by Jimmy McGovern which was aired on the BBC in 2017. It starred Sean Bean as Father Michael Kerrigan, a Roman Catholic Priest who, despite past trauma and anxiety about his own inadequacies, attempts to bring the light of Christ into the lives of the people amongst whom he ministers.  The unvarnished depictions of reality raise many questions along the way about how to live faithfully when life is very hard.  Jimmy McGovern is an award-winning writer who also penned Cracker, Brookside, Hearts and Minds and The Lakes.

Dr Gooder developed the programme after people commented to her that it would make a good study or Lent course owing to its gritty portrayal of real life in an urban estate. Although the church used at the centre of the series is in Liverpool the series never explicitly states that this is where the narrative is set but could be any poor area on the outskirts of a major city in northern England. 

Revd Mark writes:

“Last year, during the first lockdown, my colleague the Revd Pam Reeves and I ran a successful Alpha course online. But this year with the country being in a third lockdown and Lent being upon us, we soon realised that we needed something that was more in context for our time that would enable us to stay connected as we walk with people on their journey to Easter."

Mark had first been made aware of the course in 2018 when he was studying at the Barnabas Teaching Centre at St Hild College in Sheffield and he approached Paula about using it this year. "We are very grateful to Dr Paula Gooder for personally supplying us with her Lent course which is based on the highly acclaimed series.

The official outline suggests watching the full one-hour episode and then discussing it afterwards but Mark adapted this to make it easier online so they viewed a 20 minute segment via a shared screen and then they discussed that, with a further five minute clip played later on. Each episode has a guide to follow that features a synopsis of the episode, suggested Bible passage and a prayer and is downloadable as a PDF from Dr Gooder's website. 

"The series is not for the faint-hearted" Mark said. He added "It contains disturbing story lines, lots of swearing, and themes of death, suicide, abuse and violence. I wouldn't say it is an 'entry level' course for those wishing to explore their faith but more for those who are wishing to go to a deeper level."

As the course had to be delivered online Mark has been able to reach a wider audience and has welcomed people from Harrogate, Norwich and even London as well as those from the Grimsby area.

Mark, goes on to say; "This has been a very hard but enriching course and not a week has gone by without the content personally hitting someone in our group. Given the last year we have had I think everyone is feeling a bit broken and on the edge and for those who were already feeling pain, the last year has pushed them over the edge.  Every week we have laughed and cried together.  Even though it was been painful, people have been really honest in our group and it has brought out the best in people, which has enriched us all."