I’m delighted to announce that, on 30 June 2019 in Durham Cathedral, I am due to be ordained as a deacon to serve as curate in Spennymoor and Whitworth.
The town of Spennymoor is 5 miles or so to the south of Durham city, and has a population of around 20,000 (including some nearby villages). The parish of St Paul’s, Spennymoor, covers the western half of the town and the adjoining village of Middlestone Moor, and has a population of around 9500. Here is a picture of St Paul’s Church:
The parish of Whitworth, on the other hand, has a population of around 62! It contains Whitworth Hall Hotel, which was formerly the home of the Shafto family (as in Bobby). Whitworth Parish Church is situated next to Whitworth Hall, and is a listed building and a popular wedding venue.
I had the privilege of spending four weeks on placement in Spennymoor and Whitworth last summer, and grew to love the town and the churches during that time. So when the opportunity came up of returning there for my curacy, it wasn’t a difficult decision!
I’m very much looking forward to serving in Spennymoor and Whitworth for the following 3-4 years, and to working with the vicar, the Revd Matt Tarling. We’re also very glad to be staying in County Durham, which is a beautiful part of the country.
Some words of explanation…
- The word ordain is related to ‘order’. To be ordained is to be admitted to ‘holy orders’. There are three kinds of holy orders in most of Christianity, including the Church of England: deacons, priests, and bishops.
- When someone enters holy orders, they are first ordained as a deacon. A deacon is basically an official minister of the church. Most deacons also go on to be ordained as priests, usually after a year as a deacon, and I’ll hopefully be ordained as a priest in 2020. Priests, as well as being deacons, also have a presiding role in the church, so they preside at Holy Communion, and they can also look after their own churches. (The word ‘priest’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘elder’, though it’s all a bit complicated and confusing.) Then a very small number of priests also go on to be bishops, who act as overseers of the church.
- A curate is basically an assistant vicar. Being a curate involves serving as a church minister, but it is also a training position. So the vicar (the ‘incumbent’) in Spennymoor and Whitworth will act as my ‘training incumbent’.