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Lancashire teams return from four days of mission in the North East

Teams of people from Church of England parishes across Lancashire – which included two of the region’s Bishops – joined with the Archbishop of York and 22 other Bishops for a massive four-day mission event in Durham Diocese.
The hand-picked ‘mission teams’ worked with the people of the parishes in Durham.
The ‘Talking Jesus’ mission event was the third annual northern Bishops’ mission and took place from March 2 - 5. The first was in Sheffield in 2015 and the second was in Lancashire in September 2016 and was known on that occasion as ‘Crossroads Mission’.
Bishops of the ‘northern province’ of The Church of England representing every tradition now get together annually to work with local parishes in one Diocese. Each Bishop also brings a ‘mission team’.
  • You can see loads of pictures from our teams' mission activities by visiting the Diocesan Flickr feed and viewing the Talking Jesus album of pictures. Click here to see the album. Pictures will continue to be added as we get them.
  • You can also see tweets from the four days of mission by visiting our Twitter feed (@cofelancs) by clicking here.
In Durham hundreds of events took place across the Diocese in places as varied as schools, pubs, shopping centres, community centres, cafes and, of course, churches. The hope is that ‘Talking Jesus’ will touch many people’s lives and will help them to find a living faith.
The vision for this annual mission came from a retreat of Bishops in 2014 on Lindisfarne, a Celtic centre from which the gospel spread across the North of England. With the Archbishop, The Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, taking the lead they committed to work together for four days each year in one Diocese.
This year the four days of mission and celebration started at Durham Cathedral on Thursday in a service led by the Archbishop, after which the Bishops and their teams fanned out into communities in all corners of the Diocese – from the Tyne to the Tees and the Dales to the Sea.
In total all the mission teams participating in ‘Talking Jesus’ from across the north of England took part in more than 450 community events across the 16 Deaneries in the Diocese of Durham. The events ranged from pie and peas suppers to semaphore flag flying and from conversations in pubs to a flashmob in a supermarket.
The mission concluded back at Durham Cathedral on Sunday March 5 at 3pm for a final service of celebration. The Archbishop of York said: “We were in the Durham Diocese for a weekend of ‘Talking Jesus’. Jesus came to bring the very life of God as a gift to all of us. His resurrection makes it possible for us to live the life He lived. The heart of the Christian faith is about having an encounter with Jesus – an encounter which transforms and brings hope and love.”
Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, was based for the four days in the Barnard Castle Deanery. His many and varied engagements included everything from a tough question and answer session with upper-sixth form pupils at Barnard Castle School to leading the morning service at Deerbolt Young Offenders’ Institute.
Bishop Julian said: “Following our very successful ‘Crossroads’ event in Lancashire in 2016 I enjoyed another four days focussed on mission work, this time in Durham Diocese.
“As we seek to remind people of the relevance of the person of Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers in their lives today, this initiative by the Archbishop continues to grow year on year and is proving to be a great success.”
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, the Anglican Bishop of Lancaster, was based in Auckland Deanery. His engagements during the mission included a prayer walk in the village of Aycliffe and cleaning the shoes of passers-by in Bishop Auckland!
Bishop Geoff commented: “I was involved in a huge variety of events with my mission team, many of which were arranged by local churches … so it was genuine grassroots mission work.
“We have had really good conversations in many different settings and the whole mission has given local churches confidence to reach out into their communities with the Gospel message.”
Andy Pratt, Vision Champion at Preston St Stephen Church, speaking after assisting Bishop Julian in answering questions from the Barnard Castle Sixth Formers, said: “Talking Jesus has been a great experience. It’s good for churches to open the doors and reach out to their local communities. It really excites me when parishes are encouraged to do it.
“It has been very varied. This evening I have enjoyed assisting Bishop Julian with answering the questions from the young people and this morning I was telling the story of the calming of the storm from the Bible to children at a local Church of England primary school.”
Kamran Bhatti, Curate at Preston The Risen Lord, speaking after a day in schools in Gateshead Deanery, added:
“This is my first time doing the northern Bishops’ mission in another Diocese and I’m thrilled to be here.
“I have led three school assemblies in one day today, teaching the children to sing a worship song in both English and Hindi and they have all responded very positively.
“It has also been a pleasure to work alongside the fantastic members of local churches in the Gateshead Deanery.”
Hannah Boyd,Curate at Layton St Mark's,Blackpool, speaking during the shoe cleaning event in Bishop Auckland led by Bishop Geoff, commented:“What a brilliant event Talking Jesus has been. There have been great opportunities to engage with local people, like this shoe cleaning event where people can have their shoes shined free by a Bishop!
“After the success of our own northern Bishops’ mission in Lancashire last September I think it has been great to be able to encourage local churches here in what they are doing.”
And finally, Susan Seed, Curate at Lancaster Christ Church, speaking after a Prayer Walk in Aycliffe village in Auckland Deanery said:
“Talking Jesus has been really exciting – the northern Bishops’ mission is a great idea as we know from when it happened it Lancashire in 2016.
“It does a lot for the host Diocese and builds confidence to try new things and to share the Gospel, making disciples for Jesus.
“For example, during the Bishops’ mission in Lancashire last September my own church held an outdoor activity stall for children in Lancaster. It was so successful we repeated it just before Christmas.”
The full list of participants from our Diocese in Talking Jesus Bishops' Mission 2017 were:
  • Bishop Julian Henderson - Bishop of Blackburn
  • Bishop Geoff Pearson - Anglican Bishop of Lancaster
  • Susan Seed - Curate at Lancaster Christ Church
  • Hannah Boyd - Curate at Layton St Mark's, Blackpool
  • Claire Cooke - Ordinand at St Mellitus College, Liverpool
  • Ross Jesmont - PhD Student at Durham and member of St James, Shireshead
  • Carolyn Leitch – Curate at Poulton, Carleton and Singleton
  • James Goodwin-Hudson – Assistant Curate at Leyland St Andrew
  • Rie Walker – Curate at Broughton St John Baptist
  • Heather Henderson – from Wilpshire; Board of Education Adviser and School Governor
  • Andy Pratt – Vision Champion at Preston St Stephen
  • Rev Canon David Banbury, from Leyland, and Leader of the Diocesan Parish Mission Support Team
  • Kamran Bhatti – Curate at Preston The Risen Lord
  • Linda Tomkinson – Associate Priest at Marton St Paul, Blackpool
  • Guy Jamieson – Vicar at Nelson Little Marsden
  • Alex Frost – Curate at Burnley St Matthew
Ronnie Semley

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