From the Archdeacon of Northumberland
Sir, — How demoralising to read your brief report “Churches thrive in the north-east” (News, 30 October). Just who exactly regards the north-east of England as a “barren part of the mission field”, and on what evidence? Not those who live and minister here, for sure.
In Newcastle diocese, we wait enthusiastically, and expectantly, for the arrival of Christine, our 12th Bishop. She will be joining a diocese that is one of only a handful in the Church of England that has managed over the past ten years continually to buck the trend of church decline.
As we have sought to be generous, engaged, and open in our mission, we can celebrate more than 40 Messy Church developments, including one of the largest in the country; one of the first Bishop’s Mission Orders; a plethora of Christian social-action projects (some of which are more than 20 years old); and a smattering of confident Fresh Expressions, including a new church that opened just this year.
Contrary to the apparent notion in your report, in my 15 years in the diocese, only two churches have closed for worship, and 236 remain active. Of course we are pleased that there have been new independent churches springing up among us, many of which represent a welcome change in the cultural diversity of our diocese. However, perhaps your readers could be reminded that it was this so called “barren” mission field that was at the heart of the evangelisation of England long ago, and we remain privileged to stand on the shoulders of such a rich Christian heritage.
I can assure you that God is still very much alive and busy here among us today, and, in true northern style, we will continue to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in behind him.
80 Moorside North
Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 9DU