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Project sends ordinands to learn at the coalface

10 October 2014

by a staff reporter

keith blundy

Training ordinands: Dr Michael Volland, with the Associate Minister of Easington and Easington Colliery, the Revd Emma Parker

Training ordinands: Dr Michael Volland, with the Associate Minister of Easington and Easington Colliery, the Revd Emma Parker

THEOLOGICAL students at Cranmer Hall, Durham, will now be able to train at the coalface of parish ministry - almost literally.

The East Durham Mission Project, developed by the diocese, in- corporates nine parishes in the Easington deanery, an area devastated by the decline of the coal industry in the 1980s, and scene of the film Billy Elliot.

Students will spend term-long placements in the project as part of their training for ministry, living in the parishes. The project has a joint aim of enriching ordinands' experience of ministry and bringing a new energy to a depressed area.

The project is led by the Revd Dr Michael Volland, Director of Mission at Cranmer Hall, who will act as the part-time missioner, licensed for the next five years. "The idea is to encourage and enable new growth and flourishing in the churches that are there, and discern opportunities to expand.

"Hopefully, in five years we will have new congregations, and the congregations that we have already will have grown numerically and spiritually."

The ordinands will work alongside experienced clergy. As well as Dr Volland, the diocese is seeking to appoint two full-time priests to the project.

Another object is to support neighbouring clergy, exploring different ways of working, including worship away from traditional church settings and on weekdays.

The Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Revd Mark Bryant, said: "Easington is a district with a high level of social challenge. As a Church, we are determined to do all we can to support people, particularly those local people for whom is life getting more difficult.

"From the diocese's point of view, we need to find ways for clergy to support each other, and the project gives us extra capacity.

"The benefit for the national Church is that we are training ordinands in really difficult parishes, places where we need them to come and serve if the Church is to make its presence felt and make an impact in areas of great social need."

The Warden of Cranmer Hall, the Revd Mark Tanner, said: "This is where the Church should be most at home. . . Being able to train in this context, with real people in real situations, means that we are training our ordinands in a better way for the Church."

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