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The north has its attractions, too

14 February 2014


From the Revd Christopher Elliott
Sir, - I was ordained in the diocese of Chelmsford in 1969, and spent my entire stipendiary ministry there, apart from almost three years in Lincolnshire. I had no thought about working in the north - I suppose, because I had never been there, and it was never really considered. But I had felt the call, during my first curacy, to work overseas, and was accepted for a post. In the upshot, it fell through, and so we stayed in Essex.

I retired in 2006 on health grounds, remaining in the diocese of my ordination; but gradually boredom set in as my health improved, and the thought of going back to work in some capacity or other seemed feasible. House-for-duty seemed the best option, and a post in the Durham diocese seemed attractive and inviting. For my wife and me, it was a bit of an adventure. And so it proved. This was the best move of all.

We discovered that the north-east has opportunity a-plenty. Warm hearts receptive to pastoral care abound. In no parish in the south did we receive support, care, and love as much as we have here. As the Bishop of Jarrow commented in your article, this really is a land of missionary opportunity. I urge southerners like me to take up the challenge and come and work inthe north: you'll never regret it.

12 Meadow Close
Barnard Castle DL12 0TW

From the Bishop of Doncaster and the Revd Mark Powley
Sir, - We agree with the point made by many in your report "Clergy flock to fill posts in 'wealthy' south-east", (News, 7 February) that the north faces great challenges in recruitment, but also offers a significant mission opportunity.

This year has seen the launch of the St Barnabas Theological Centre (SBTC) in Sheffield. We are already recruiting ordinands who might otherwise have left the region, and thus been less likely to serve in the north. Our model of practical and theological training enables a range of diverse churches to resource mission in the region by sending ordinands to serve locally, even while they train. It also enables those training with us to gain first-hand experience of the many opportunities for new missional initiatives in our northern dioceses.

The north of England is not only a vital ground for deployment but - through SBTC - adds a missional "training ground' in the north.

MARK POWLEY (Director)
St Barnabas Theological Centre
St Thomas Crookes Campus
Nairn Street, Crookes
Sheffield S10 1UL

From the Revd Dr Gavin Wakefield and Canon Nigel Rooms
Sir, - Thank you for your report on the north-south divide. Your readers may be interested in the work that we have initiated in thinking about the same issue since a day conference we ran last year at Bishopthorpe, "Searching for the Angel of the North". We think we need much more theological reflection in the Church as whole, which includes the south, about the two halves of our country, where social demographics are as divided as the Church is.

We intend to follow this up with a day conference on 7 October this year looking at a contextual theology of the north: that is, growingan understanding of the new missionary context that people called to the north will find. Besides reversing the slide to London and the south-east in vocational terms, we are also interested in how we can develop what we might call "indigenous" vocations in the north itself, and we hope to create another one-day event later this year to engage with this. Further details will be available soon.

For many reasons, the powerful south has looked north with fear (historically, Jeremiah 1.14 has been unhelpful here), and this cannot be of the gospel.

Director of Training, Mission and Ministry, diocese of York
Diocesan House, Aviator Court
Clifton Moor, York YO30 4WJ

Director of Ministry and Mission
Department for Development
Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham
Jubilee House, Westgate
Southwell NG25 0JH

From Canon Cecil Heatley
Sir, - With regard to "Clergy flock to . . . south-east": when I was at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, 1962-64, we would pray one day for the three old Ridley men in the diocese of Bradford, and the next day for the 63 old Ridley men in the diocese of Chichester.

Flat 37, Bromley and Sheppard's Colleges
London Road, Bromley BR1 1PF

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