What we hope to do:
- we are looking forward to welcoming a party from Newcastle diocese to visit us in July 2013
- Bishop Tim has been invited with some of his staff to visit Newcastle diocese in October 2013
- a party from Winchester Cathedral is to visit Newcastle Cathedral in June 2014
- a grant from the Diocese of Winchester helps pay for Church Army pioneer ministry in Willington Quay.
- there are links between a number of different parishes; in 2011 a new link was created between St Michel du Valle, Guernsey and St Paul the Apostle and the Holy Family Choppington.
- a party from Newcastle Cathedral visited Winchester Cathedral at the end of May 2012; on the same weekend a group went from New Alresford to St Wilfrid's Church Newbiggin Hall as part of their partnership.
- Andrew Duff from the Diocese of Newcastle led a CMD event at the end of May 2012 on tourism and mission.
- currently the Parish of Whitchurch with Tufton with Litchfield is exploring a partnership with a parish in Newcastle diocese.
- our General Synod members meet together in York at the July meetings.
What we have done:
- we worked together on producing the book Beating the Traffic which led to a successful debate and unanimous vote in General Synod about sexual trafficking.
- there have been regular visits between linked parish groups and both Cathedrals.
- we sent eight representatives from different parts of the Diocese to Newcastle Diocese in July 2011 and have shared their reflections on this visit.
- we have part funded a curacy in Newcastle diocese at St Mark's Shiremoor from 2008 - 2012.
Existing links include:
- Winchester Cathedral – Newcastle Cathedral
- St Stephen’s Church, Bournemouth – St George’s Church, Cullercoats
- St Michel du Valle, Guernsey – St Paul the Apostle and the Holy Family, Choppington
- St Clement's Church, Jersey – St James and St Basil, Fenham
- St Helier's Church, Jersey – St Thomas the Martyr, Newcastle
- All Saints' Church, Mudeford – Tynemouth Priory
- St John's Church, New Alresford – St Wilfred’s Church, Newbiggin Hall
- All Saints' Church, Upper Clatford – St Bartholomew and St Basil's Church, Tweedmouth
- St Mark's Church, Woolston - St Mark's Church, Shiremore
St Paul's, Willington Quay and Coffee Plus
A community partnership, fresh expression and coffee shop are all in a day’s work for Church Army Evangelist Steve Dixon, Pioneer Minister in the Diocese of Newcastle. Steve has been supported by Winchester Diocese for the last four years in his ministry to revitalise the church of St Paul’s in Willington Quay and to assist the parish of Shiremoor, St Mark in outreach to a large area of new housing.
Before Steve arrived in Willington Quay, the prospects for St Paul’s church looked bleak. Although the church building had been modernised to house community groups, the building was underused and the congregation had disbanded. With Steve’s help, the church is now at the centre of community life. Steve says, ‘We see the building as a community asset and an extension of the gospel. We have several very active groups for children, young people, parents and older people. There are adult education classes and help for the unemployed. All of these groups and activities are vital in the deprived community of Willington Quay.’
The St Paul’s Community Partnership was set up to manage the building and to organise activities and community events at St Paul’s. Steve commented, ‘There’s a lot of local support for the work here at St Paul’s with good community involvement in the partnership. We have been looking at how to fill the gaps left by local authority cutbacks and have become so busy we now find it hard to accommodate new groups. It’s a nice problem to have.’
The social action at St Paul’s has been accompanied by an increased interest in Christianity. As a fresh expression of church, worship has been reintroduced once a month in a ‘messy church’ format with several families regularly attending. Discipleship courses have also been well received.
New housing in the parish of Shiremoor has seen a population increase of over ten thousand. Steve has worked with the congregation to open a contemporary styled not-for-profit coffee shop in the heart of the new housing. Steve says, ‘We call it Coffee Plus, the coffee being a sign of our hospitality and the plus being the gospel-focussed activities which happen out of business hours.’ Assisted by Evangelists David and Suzette Maguire and a team of volunteers, Coffee Plus has become a focus point in the centre of the new housing. Chill-out evenings, walking groups, knit and natter and baby signing classes have all grown out of listening to customers' needs. One customer commented, ‘you should change the name to House of Happiness,’ and another customer said he had bought a house in the area because of the shop. ‘We’re really pleased at the response we have had from local people,’ says Steve, ‘it’s so easy to have conversations about faith in the relaxed atmosphere of the shop and some people are now part of Table, our nurture group.’
‘In both St Paul’s and Coffee Plus we are actively encouraging the growth of community and bringing the gospel into the life of each community in a gentle and natural way,’ Steve added.
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