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
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
"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."