The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, took time out from his Prayer Walk through Stockton Deanery on Friday 13th May to bless the new Love Stockton Centre.
Love Stockton is a group of people with a vision to see local churches, charities and individual Christians working together with Stockton Borough Council, Catalyst, other businesses and organisations to make a difference in the town.
The Centre provides a welcoming environment for all ages including cafe communities, skills for life training, job clubs, financial and digital inclusion opportunities, creative workshops, chaplaincy services, listening & befriending, a quiet space to pray or reflect and much, much more.
Bishop Paul opened the day’s proceedings, offering prayers of dedication and a blessing at the start of day two of his pray walks in the Stockton Deanery area. The Bishop was joined by fellow prayer-walkers including newly appointed centre manager Jane Craig.
Bishop Paul said: “In one word this is ‘FAB’! It’s brilliant that at the centre of Stockton, there are so many churches working together, with such a range of services, offering hugh hospitality and welcome to the people of Stockton to show them they are loved and cared for by God, through God’s people – FAB“.
Centre Manager Jane Craig, who is walking with Bishop Paul on the prayer walks this week said: “Love Stockton is a springboard to work with charities and other faith organisations on a daily basis. Also to be a sustainable presence in the high street and throughout the borough.“
Jane added that as a Lay Reader in Billingham team parish for more than 10 years: “I am immensely looking forward to this new role leading the centre – I see it as a massive mission opportunity to show God’s love in action. It was great that we were able to include a blessing for the Centre on its opening day with the prayer walk.”
The Centre at 111 High Street was then officially declared open to the public in a civic ceremony later in the morning by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Durham, Mrs Sue Snowdon, followed by short addresses from Neil Schneider, Chief Executive of Stockton Borough Council, and Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North.
The Bishop’s 2016 Prayer Walks started in Darlington on ascension day Thursday 5th May 2016, and moved to Stockton on the 12th May – concluding the 2016 series on Sunday 15th May. The prayer walks are aimed at allowing him to meet people, get to know the area and pray for it and its people.
The full itinerary of the Bishop’s Prayer Walks can be found on the dedicated facebook page www.facebook.com/prayerwalkdurham