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Falling attendance

by
16 March 2011

iStock

From Canon Kevin Walton

Sir, — With reference to the analysis of the Ven. Bob Jackson on de­clining attendance in the North of England (News, 11 March), I would like to come to the defence of my former diocese, Durham.

It is true that there have been periods of long vacancy in the dio­cese, and no doubt this has had a detrimental effect on attendance. For the most part, however, it is not true that the reason for these vacancies is a deliberate policy of keeping posts vacant.

For 12 years, I was a parish priest in the north-east. During that period, one neighbouring parish was vacant on two occasions for a total of about five years. This was despite strenuous efforts to attract a suitable priest. Another parish where I served in the north-east has now been vacant for more than two-and-a-half years, despite two sets of national advertisements. This indicates that the problem goes deeper than simply “poor management practices”.

As the report also highlights, there are signs of hope and growth, but also straightforward and faithful resilience in a struggling context.

KEVIN WALTON
2 Sumpter Yard
St Albans AL1 1BY

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