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Serving the market place

02 November 2006

THE CHURCH of St Nicholas in the centre of Durham, where once Lord Carey was Vicar and wrote his book The Church in the Market Place, now wants to develop closer links with the people who come to the city centre. It has just appointed a director of its Market Place Project.

As he has been in post only four weeks, the Revd Grant Maclaughlan is still finding his way. He is actually a Church of Scotland minister from Edinburgh, but tells me he has dropped "the Revd" and the clerical collar. In Edinburgh, he was much caught up in redeveloping church buildings, but wanted a "wider mission job, engaging with people". When he saw the Durham post advertised, he felt "a real sense of God calling".

The post has come out of the "mission-shaped church" initiative. It has the support not only of the Vicar, the Revd Dale Hanson, but of the chief executive of the city council, Brian Spears, and the chairman of the council, Fraser Reynolds.

Mr Maclaughlan is currently getting to know the people in the city centre to find out what their needs are. For instance, he told me, he had just been in the library, where they told him their great need was for a crèche to help the young mothers doing classes there. A cohesive strategy is needed, he says, with investment to redevelop St Nicholas’s church halls to be of more use to the community. He has promised to let me know in a few months how it all develops.

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