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6th September 2018

Bishops and their mission teams head to Newcastle for 'Pathways'

Bishops of The Church of England in Lancashire are heading further north to Newcastle Diocese from today for ‘Pathways’ – the latest Northern Bishops’ Mission event.

Rt Rev. Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley and Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, will be in Newcastle Diocese for four days, from September 6 - 9.

They will be accompanied by experienced mission team members from parishes across Lancashire, including people from Blackpool, Darwen, Lancaster, Blackburn, Thornton Cleveleys, Heysham, Accrington and Baxenden. (See Notes to Editors.)

All the team members, including the Bishops, will be hosted in the homes of people from local parish churches.

Bishop Jill (third from left) is pictured above with members of her ‘Pathways’ mission team pictured during a recent planning visit in Newcastle Diocese. See the end of this story for a report from Bishop Jill about the Mission. 

There will be plenty of activity on social media, using the hashtag #pathwaysmission … and follow @cofelancs on Twitter for retweets from mission participants.

Launched in 2015 by the Archbishop of York, the first Northern Bishops’ Mission was in Sheffield Diocese, followed by our Diocese in 2016, then Durham Diocese last year. In 2018 there have been two missions – one in Carlisle Diocese in March and now ‘Pathways’ in Newcastle.

The Archbishop attends every Mission and is joined by many of the Bishops from northern Dioceses; all of them working with teams from local churches to spread the Gospel.

Two years ago, when the Mission was in Blackburn Diocese, the event was entitled ‘Crossroads’ and was used as a platform to launch our ‘Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’.

The legacy from Crossroads was parishes emboldened to ‘do mission’ in their local areas following more than 450 successful events over four days.

This latest four-day mission, to share the Good News about Jesus across Newcastle, officially begins at 3.45pm on Thursday, September 6 with a commissioning service at Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island.  

That service will feature a performance from local children; words of welcome from Rt Rev. Christine Hardman, the Bishop of Newcastle and Rt Rev. Mark Tanner, Bishop of Berwick; songs; prayer and the commissioning itself by the Archbishop of York, The Most Rev. and Rt Hon. Dr John Sentamu. 

Then the teams will scatter across Newcastle Diocese for hundreds of mission-focussed local events. See this website for more on 'Pathways' including a full list of all events.

Each visiting Bishop is accompanied by a team, including people from their own Diocese, to help with the mission work and to collectively support a local ‘Deanery area’ they are assigned to. Bishop Philip and his team will be based in Newcastle East Deanery while Bishop Jill and her team will be based in Central Deanery.

Speaking today, Bishop Philip said: “I am really looking forward to ‘Pathways Mission’ and excited about the opportunities we have to share the Gospel with people of all backgrounds and all ages.

“My team and I will be doing grassroots mission work at a huge range of events organised by local churches in Newcastle East Deanery.

“I am delighted the Archbishop has continued to lead this initiative which is now a regular fixture in the northern church calendar.”

Meanwhile Bishop Jill said: “This will be my first Northern Bishops’ Mission event since becoming Bishop of Lancaster in the summer and I am looking forward to it immensely.

“I do think it’s significant that the ‘Pathways’ commissioning service is happening on the cradle of northern mission - Lindisfarne. I find myself praying with ambition for a change in the direction of the wind over Newcastle Diocese, just as St Aidan prayed from Lindisfarne over Bamburgh Castle when it was at risk of burning to the ground: and miraculously the wind changed direction.

“May this ‘impossibility’ be the case through Pathways Mission; may the wind change and may many fires be kindled in the hearts of those who have yet to hear the Good News.”

The Archbishop of York has also been speaking about ‘Pathways’ on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Rev. Sam Cheesman, Curate from Anchorsholme All Saints, will be on Bishop Jill’s mission team. 

He said today: “I am really looking forward to heading to Newcastle and I am praying there will be many opportunities to talk to people about Jesus.

“While I’m there I will be attending a whole host of events, including a church beer festival; as well as preaching and teaching at two local schools and delivering a sermon on the Sunday morning at a local church. It will be a fantastic weekend.”

Meanwhile Liz and Aaron McLean from Baxenden will be part of Bishop Philip’s team. 

Liz is training for ordination while her husband is a Reader-in-training at Accrington Christ Church. The couple will be staying with the Vicar of St Francis Parish Church, High Heaton, Rev. Robert Lawrence and his wife Sarah.

Liz said today: “Aaron and I have a missional outlook to our faith and we have seen the impact of intentional outreach and projects in our local communities. To be invited to go to another diocese and to work with and support people in other parishes as they develop a love and understanding for mission is a great privilege. So too is the opportunity to live and work alongside the local parishioners. It will be very exciting and we are both looking forward to it.”

Mission team members

Team members accompanying Bishop Philip and Bishop Jill from the local area are:

  • Sharon Collins, Lead Tutor and Urban Evangelist for the M:Power Project at St James, Lower Darwen
  • Neil Elston, Urban Evangelist for the M:Power Project at St James, Lower Darwen)
  • Rev. Sam Cheesman, Curate at Anchorsholme All Saints Benefice in Thornton Cleveleys
  • Rev. Andrew Osborn, Heysham St Peter Church
  • Aaron McLean, from Baxenden and a Reader in Training, Accrington Christ Church
    Liz McLean, from Baxenden; Diocesan Ordinand
  • Ian Sarginson; Diocesan Ordinand, studying in Durham, from St Thomas’ Lancaster
  • The Venerable Michael Everitt; Archdeacon of Lancaster
  • Linda Tomkinson, Freedom Church, Mereside Estate, Blackpool
  • Pete Tomkinson, Freedom Church, Mereside Estate, Blackpool
  • Sian Howell-Jones, Blackburn Cathedral

Reflections on the mission by Bishop Jill

We so much enjoyed our time in Newcastle Central Deanery and being guests at a whole range of well- organised events: a Beerfest, Big Friendly Gathering (with dancing and concert bands), school assemblies and classes (with hard questions!), fun run, tug o’war, multi-cultural evening with the local South Asian congregation, not to mention a flower festival themed round the Great North Run.

Many events had a deep reach into the local community, and we also found ourselves encouraging and being encouraged by church members too.

Just like St Aidan’s prayers caused a change in the wind direction as a fire threatened to engulf Bamburgh castle, so it seemed as this was an image for what was happening on the ground in Newcastle.  

As a team we had many “changing direction of the wind” conversations with adults & children. Lots of holy moments. May there be much fruit and fires lit.

I’m grateful to my team: Rev. Sam Cheesman, Neil Elston and Sharon Collins (Urban Evangelists in Darwen) and Bishop Colin Buchanan. And to all those who cheered us on in prayer!



Ronnie Semley, September 6, 2018