Nineteen people from diverse walks of life and all ages from twenty-eight to seventy-two will be ordained as Priests and Deacons in the Diocese of Durham at ceremonies to be staged at Durham Cathedral on June 30, 1st July and Seaham Harbour on the 2nd July 2018.

Each one has been called to ordained ministry after amassing a wealth of experiences in a wide range of places and jobs and include everyone from a former footballer to a retired miner.


Paul Barker Sunderland, St Chad
David Bond South Hetton
Frances Cooper Gainford and Winston
Simon Grundy Herrington, Penshaw and Shiney Row
Carol Harris Wheatley Hill, Thornley and Wingate with Hutton Henry
Emily Hudghton Stockton Parish Church
Mark Hudghton Shildon
Mark Mawhinney Seaham Harbour and Dawdon
Sabine Tenge-Heslop Harelaw and Annfield Plain
Graham Young Sunderland, St Mary and St Peter



Cameron Abernethy Cockerton
Paul Arnold Preston-on-Tees
Alexander Crawford Gateshead, St Helen and Bensham, St Chad
Michelle Delves Stranton, All Saints
Brenda Forrester Washington
Clive Hall Stranton, All Saints
Mark Harrison Chester le Street
Pouya Heidari Bishopwearmouth, St Gabriel
Philip Murray Stockton-on-Tees, St Peter
Maeve Sherlock Durham, St Nicholas

PRIESTS – To be ordained 30th June 2018, Durham Cathedral

Those to be ordained Priest by the Bishop of Jarrow,
The Right Reverend Mark Bryant in Durham Cathedral
at 5.00pm on Saturday 30th June 2018 

Paul Barker, Sunderland, St Chad

Paul Barker, 44, was born in Durham and grew up in Darlington. After sixth form college, he took a year off before attending university and landing a job with a telecommunications company. That year off turned into a 20-year career in IT with the company.

He said: “As a child and teenager I was a committed Christian but in my later teens I drifted away from the Church. Shortly after our second son was born, I had a very powerful encounter with God and felt a call back to worship which was impossible to ignore. As I explored my faith as an adult and became more involved with the life of my local parish church, I felt a growing sense that God wanted more from me.

“At first I tried very hard to ignore this, but God was very persistent. During my time in Cockerton in Darlington, I became increasingly involved in leadership within the church in various ways and recognised that much of what I was doing there felt more like what I was supposed to be doing.”

David Bond, South Hetton


David Bond, 72, was raised in Seaham, Co Durham and, due to childhood illness, lost two years of education. He started work at Dawdon Colliery at the age of 15. He became a mining engineer rising to a regional management role before being made redundant from Westoe Colliery in 1993.

He said: “In the mid to late 1980s I had a very powerful spiritual experience that changed my life. I became aware that all my sins were at the foot of the cross and that the slate was wiped clean. People noticed a difference in me and later I began to give my Testimony to workmen underground.  Following this event, and redundancy from the mining industry, I believed that God was calling me to the ordained ministry.

“Taking a completely new direction from mining engineering to study theology was extremely difficult, but there was never any doubt in my mind about my eventual success as I firmly believed that I was being obedient to God and that he would see me through.

“My present challenge is promoting the Gospel in a community devastated by colliery closures and in a society whose interest in church is largely non-existent. We are fortunate we have people in our congregation full of enthusiasm for the Lord keen to reach out into the community.”

Full story

Frances Cooper, Gainford, St Mary and Winston, St Andrew

Frances Cooper, 61, was brought up in a mining village on the North East coast and left school at 16 and went straight into clerical employment. She went to night school for several years to gain her accountancy qualifications and has worked predominantly in manufacturing for most of her working life.

She said: “It was in my first year of training (for Reader Ministry) that I felt I was being called by God to ordained ministry but was so terrified by this I could not articulate how I felt.  I stayed with the reader training and was licensed in 2012. Six months into my Reader ministry my priest challenged me about why I had not pursued ordination. It was such a relief to be able to talk about it with someone who recognised the call in me.”

Simon Grundy, Herrington, St Aidan, Penshaw, All Saints, Shiney Row, St Oswald

Simon Grundy, 37, was born in Rhyhope, Sunderland. Intending to convert to Law he studied Theology at the University of Durham.

He said: “Whilst there I also concluded, rather ideologically, that I didn’t want to give my life to making millions for a corporate organisation. After some soul searching and identifying a desire to ‘make a difference’, I spent time in primary schools and I began to train to be a primary teacher but didn’t qualify, concluding it wasn’t my vocation. After an educational spell as a Team Leader in a call centre, I began a career in sales in education publishing, giving my life to the world’s biggest publisher to make their millions!

“I progressed quickly into national management positions and was progressing in a career in the educational publishing and assessment sector.

“At a point in time I began to question things. Despite the success that I had been blessed to have, I never felt proud to say ‘I’m in sales’ or any satisfaction in being able to say ‘this is what I’ve achieved’ it was just what I did. I knew that I wanted to engage more with communities and with a church and tried to do within the constraints of family life and a high pressured job where I travelled a lot. I started to ask some big questions and wondered whether I should explore setting up something for myself or retraining as a lawyer after all or a doctor, setting up something in the Lake District or whether there was something else that was the vocation to which I was called to serve and where I would be the Simon God made me to be.

“I never expected that something else to be being a Vicar, that wasn’t something that I explored.

Then God started to speak and act in ways that I eventually couldn’t ignore any more.

“Eventually I couldn’t ignore it anymore and every time I have doubted he has spoken or acted in amazing ways to affirm the call to the role.”

Carol Harris, Wheatley Hill, All Saints and Wingate with Hutton Henry

Carol Harris, 51, grew up in Rainhill in Merseyside and  was brought up as Christian and part of her local Anglican church but started to question her faith when she was 11.

She said: “Through the influence of friends at school who started talking to me about their faith I came back to faith at 14 deciding for myself and committing my life to live for Jesus.  I came up to Durham University at 18 to study geography. I met my husband, Andy, at university and as the area we had in common was the North East we stayed up here, getting married in 1988 and moving to Chester le Street.  We have been very involved in St Mary and St Cuthberts Church, Chester-le-Street for the past 28 years. For the last 24 years, we have been members of the Parish South congregation where I led the music ministry.

“For a long time, I had been in lay leadership positions within my church and I sensed a calling to explore this further. I completed the Living Theology course and the Mission Shaped Ministry course before starting training as a Reader. While doing this I felt a strong call to ordained ministry and so with the encouragement of others I began the discernment process. This confirmed what I felt and had felt from a young age.”

Emily Hudghton, Stockton Parish Church

Emily Hudghton, 28, studied English and Related Literature at The University of York, before completing a Postgraduate Certificate of Education at the University of Sheffield. She was also the Youth Work Advisor for a church in York for a year in between.

She met her husband Mark in the first term of university. She said: “We both began to feel called to ordination in our teenage years, a sense which developed as we went through university together. We entered the formal discernment process at the same time, shortly before we got married, and studied together at Cranmer Hall from 2014-2017. We now are serving our curacies in two different parishes in the diocese.

“I have always seen my calling as inextricably linked to my faith. I was 12 or 13 when I first started to get to know Jesus personally, and from that point onwards I could imagine no better way to live life than spending it getting to know him better and sharing the wide and deep and amazing love of God with others. I was about 18 or 19 when I first took seriously the idea that, for me, that might look like ordination.”

Mark Hudghton, Shildon

Mark Hudghton, 29, said: “Between 2007 and 2011 I studied for an Integrated Masters (MEng) in Computer Systems and Software Engineering at the University of York. There I met my wonderful wife, Emily through the Christian Union, and we became good friends.

“After finishing my university course, I worked part-time for my Church, St Michael Le Belfry on their student work team. I also came on board as the Chief Technical Officer for a technology start-up company called Yatterbox which was only a few months old. This was an innovative business, which provided online political monitoring services through aggregating the social media posts of politicians and, later, journalists. During this year both Emily and I began to formally explore ordination.

“I first felt God calling me to ordained ministry when I was 17 – this sense of “calling” came in the form of a thought (that I should be a vicar) that wouldn’t leave me alone and a sense of peace and excitement when I prayed about it. At the same time (despite not having said anything to anyone about it) quite a few people out of the blue started telling me that they thought I’d make a good vicar that they felt God was telling them that’s what God wanted me to do. This confirmed for me what I was already sensing God was saying.”

Sabine Tenge-Heslop, Harelaw and Annfield Plain, St Thomas

Sabine Tenge-Heslop, 59, grew up in Frankfurt.  Came to North East England and found work as a teacher of German, first in several schools, and then at Durham University.

She was Ordained in 2017 and has been serving her curacy at St. Thomas, Harelaw and Annfield Plain, in Lanchester deanery.  In January, she was awarded with a BA in Theology, Ministry and Mission.

She said: “I love the place where I live, I love most of the things I am doing, and I am grateful that the Love  of God has granted me such an amazing second start in life, with a wonderful new marriage, a fulfilling job as a teacher, and now this amazing ministry that is entrusted to me.  I feel I am getting closer to becoming the person God intended me to be.”

Graham Young, Sunderland, St Mary and St Peter

Graham Young, 34, grew up living all over the world (Bermuda, Ascension Island, Anguilla, Nigeria, Belgium and South Africa) and from 11 years old attended a boarding school in Dorset.

He came to faith at 15, having been an atheist up till then in a non-church family, after being filled with the Holy Spirit when the school Chaplain prayed for him. He studied Genetics at University which led on to becoming a science teacher and eventually learning leader for Biology in a big academy in Consett, County Durham.

He said: “I was attending a big free church in Durham called Kings. It was here that I first got a sense of call to ministry, although I didn’t recognise it as such. The preacher one Sunday at the end of the sermon said that she wanted to pray for people called to church leadership and for us to bow our heads and close our eyes as a congregation while those who felt called to stand up. I had no intention of standing up until a voice told me clearly ‘stand up’.

Initially, I refused, and the voice got louder and louder until I crept up. I remember feeling very embarrassed and awful. A few months later, during my prayers and having forgotten the experience in Kings, again the voice came back, but this time said: “be a priest for me in the Church of England”.

PRIESTS – To be ordained 2nd July 2018, Seaham Harbour
By The Bishop of Beverley

Mark Mawhinney, Seaham Harbour & Dawdon, & Seaham, St Mary the Virgin

Mark Mawhinney, 50, was born in Northern Ireland in County Down and attended Regent House School in Newtownards. As well as taking A levels in Music, History and Mathematics, he also learned to play the piano and the organ and so music has played a big part in his life. He spent a year at St Andrews University as an organ scholar before taking a degree in Music at Durham University. While at university, he was organ scholar at Durham Cathedral and also conducted the University Chamber Choir. After graduation, he did a postgraduate year at the Royal College of Music in London.

He began a career in teaching, first of all at Hurstpierpoint College in West Sussex and then back in the North East at Durham School. While there he organised a Chapel Choir trip to Italy which included conducting the choir at Mass at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

During 2002, he spent the year teaching at Christ’s College, Christchurch in New Zealand, one of the leading schools in the country. He returned to the UK and to County Durham in 2003 to teach at Barnard Castle School.

He said: “I settled into life as a music school teacher and maintained the links with the church largely through music but the call towards ordained ministry never truly went away. It was an appeal by the then Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, following an ordination service in the Cathedral that made me think about the possibility of exploring my vocation afresh. I thought and prayed about this during the summer of 2012.

“As I explored my vocation I grew in a sense that this was what God was calling me to do and I also had a clear conviction that I should aim to study full time for ministry and give up my then job of school teaching to do this.

“As I went through the discernment process in the Durham diocese, there was a slow and steady realisation that I was moving in the direction God wanted me to go in.”

DEACONS – To be ordained 1st July 2018, Durham Cathedral

Those to be ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Durham,
The Right Reverend Paul Butler in Durham Cathedral at
10.00am on Sunday 1st July 2018 

Cameron Abernethy, Cockerton

Cameron Abernethy, 43, was born and brought up just south of Edinburgh, and attended church with family from a young age. After leaving school, Cameron decided to take a year out before going to university and worked as a church intern with children and youth in Seattle, USA. Following a couple of years as a youth worker for a church project in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Cameron trained as a primary school teacher in Aberdeen. After graduation, Cameron returned to Edinburgh to work as a primary school teacher, spending almost thirteen years at Leith Walk Primary School.  

Whilst working as a teacher in Edinburgh, Cameron successfully completed a theology degree from Oxford Brookes University as a distance learner.

Cameron said: “It is with great excitement that I come to serve my title post at St Mary’s, Cockerton in Darlington. I had grown up with the firm expectation from everyone around me that I would go pretty straight into ordained ministry. As a teenager, I thought this was very much what God was calling me to do at the time.

“After leaving school and enjoying a gap year, I started a theology degree but hated every moment of it. I struggled to engage with the course and did not connect with the other candidates training for ministry. I felt very alone and isolated and decided that I had completely misinterpreted my sense of calling. I felt a failure and decided that I could never possibly be the sort of person God would ever call into ordained ministry.

“Thankfully, I was offered a position as a youth worker and this helped to re-ignite my faith and reorient my sense of vocation as a teacher. This challenge led me to grow and develop as a person, understanding that teaching and working with young people is a core aspect of my vocation.”

Paul Arnold, Preston on Tees

Paul Arnold, 38, said: “I went to school in Bracknell and studied English, French and History at A-level, going on to read Law at University in Aberystwyth. Despite having been on the PCC as a youth representative and having been to Uganda on mission during my teenage years, I found myself drifting away from church whilst at university, tempted by the ‘fun’ that could be had. It wasn’t until the end of my second year, when I met my wife, Elizabeth, that I returned to church and found faith again in Christ.

“On the day I braved my first church service in Aberystwyth, the sermon was about the Prodigal Son and I remember feeling an immense sense of love and peace as I prayed for forgiveness during the service as if I was coming home.

“I studied to become a Criminal Barrister in London, and attempted to practice for three years, but a large loan to pay for the training was looming and crime really doesn’t pay. So I applied for the Government Fast Stream and ended up working in the Cabinet Office for ten years.

“During this time I found myself in some fascinating positions with wonderfully motivated people. I ended up in senior management and was mentoring someone going through the discernment process for ministry when they told me I would make a fantastic priest.

“Initially, this suggestion took some time for us as a family to process. But once we surrendered to what God was pointing us to, we have never looked back.”

Alexander Crawford, Gateshead, St Helens & Bensham, St Chad

Alexander Crawford, 29 was born in Melbourne, Australia, and moved to the Midlands when aged eight. He first came to Durham in 2008 to study theology. Alexander worked at Durham Cathedral for four years with the Precentor, assisting with the Cathedral’s liturgical life.

Alexander said: “I have always been a Christian, and have been brought up in the Church – with my father and grandfather both priests, too – so I haven’t experienced the ‘Damascus road’ moment my brother and sister ordinands often talk of so movingly.  What I have felt is the irresistible growth of God’s love within me over many years, in every stage of life, and the joyful realisation that I cannot do anything else in this life except share some of God’s incredible love with those I meet, and serve him as a deacon and priest in his Church.”

Michelle Delves, Stranton All Saints

Michelle Delves, 50, says that the majority of her employment has been in the field of Domestic Abuse support work. She worked in Refuges, Outreach and also facilitated training events for Specialist Domestic Abuse Police Officers and Social Workers. She worked alongside the local authorities in Dorset to facilitate the first Domestic Abuse awareness raising course for teachers and pupils at several schools across the area, as part of the PHSE curriculum.

She said: “In March 2010 I went to work one morning and my work colleague Sue told me she’d had a dream about me being ordained as a pioneer minister. Neither of us knew what the term pioneer minister meant back then so I spoke to my vicar about it. She told me that she had felt for a long time that I had a calling to ministry. I was still very unsure but the confirmations just kept coming. They came from family members, people who I really respected within my church family and even people I had only just met.”

Brenda Forrester, Washington

Brenda Forrester, 46 and has lived in the Chester-le-Street area for much of her life.

After leaving university, her first career was working with people with autism. She returned to university to study counselling, which she moved into upon qualifying, working with substance misuse in GP surgeries. Immediately prior to being a stay-at-home mum, she founded and ran a substance misuse department in a secure unit for young people. She has since worked as an artist and helped run her husband’s landscaping business.

Brenda said: “My journey into faith began in earnest in 2008, attending a series of J. John events called ‘Just 10’. I had always had a belief in God in some way, but my spirituality was very eclectic. Something J. John said in his talk made sense to me. After asking Jesus into my life in April of that year, I had not expected what came next. As Jesus and the Bible came alive, encouraged by my baptism visitor and a close friend, I began to attend Parish South, a church plant of St. Mary’s and St. Cuthbert’s in Hermitage school hall. I joined a cell group which both my baptism visitor and friend attended, then was asked to sing in the worship band, which I loved.

“In 2009, I was working towards opening an art gallery in Chester-le-Street, when God seemed to be saying these words, ‘Become a vicar’. I laughed. I had tattoos, listened to heavy rock music and had been a Christian for a year, I did not feel like ‘vicar’ material. After laughing for a year, every time the thought arose, my patient curate suggested I read the criteria for ordination. I didn’t even know what that meant, but after research, and trying hard to rule myself out, I realised I might be a fit after all.”

Clive Hall, Stranton All Saints

Clive Hall, 57 is married to Angela and they have both received Diplomas in Christian Counselling.

In 2003, they moved to Hartlepool. Working with Churches Together they decided to start a Foodbank. With the help of Trussell Trust, they registered as a charity and obtained two properties. They now employ two people and have 55 volunteers. Clive is the chair for the trust.

Clive said: “I do feel I want to be more than a deacon because I have a deep desire to Baptise and to be able to officiate at the Eucharist. I feel like I have been on a journey and it is one that is making me see things with new eyes.”

Mark Harrison, Chester le Street

Mark Harrison, 58 was born in Stockton-on-Tees in the sixties, he worked in the Chemical Industry on engineering polymers.

He and his family moved to Merseyside and he became the Pastor of an Evangelical Church and then a Church Plant. In 2008 they were back in Stockton, now living in an idyllic setting of country lanes, farming smells and a very quiet life.

He said: “From this tranquillity God led us to All Saints Church, Preston-on-Tees to join with this church led by Rev John Lambert, a contemporary from Moorlands College. From the very first service I knew that this place was like a coming home and an opportunity to put down roots in a place that Julie and I just loved. At this time, I was working as an Applications Engineer in engineering plastics and once again I sensed the call of God on my life to ministry. In 2013 I resigned from a job that I had been doing for eight years and in that same year became a member of the Church Staff Team. In 2016, and after a two-year process of discernment, God laid on my life the opportunity to train for Anglican Ministry.”

Pouya Heidari, Bishopwearmouth, St Gabriel


For Pouya Heidari, 33, ordination, is something that is a far cry from what was a promising professional football career in his native Iran. Pouya fled the country at the age of 24 following his conversion to Christianity.

Pouya said: “I was born in a place that enforced religion on people, so sports and especially football was my way to find an escape. I left my home, country by becoming a professional footballer. Naturally, ordination or even Christian faith wasn’t something I ever considered at the time.

“But then I met Jesus who transformed my life and my journey as a follower of Christ began. In the meantime, I had returned to my hometown and naturally had to share my discovery of Jesus with the people around me.

Full Story

Philip Murray, Stockton on Tees, St Peter and Elton

Philip Murray, 29, was born in the village of Castleside, just outside Consett. At the age of 18 he moved to Cambridge to read Law at Corpus Christi College, staying on after his Law degree to study for a PhD in the history of English administrative law. After his PhD he worked for two years as a university academic in Cambridge, where he was a Fellow of St John’s College.

He said: “My family started attending church regularly when I was about ten, but I turned away from the faith as a teenager and wasn’t particularly interested in church for a good while after that. As an undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, I started to attend the College Chapel for Evensong every so often. There was something in the beautiful choral music, and the cadences of Cranmer and Coverdale, that I found attractive, though I still considered myself agnostic to the faith.

“All of this changed in the spring of 2011, when I was in the first year of my PhD. I remember watching the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on television and being overawed by the majesty of it all: the music; the ancient liturgy; the amazing ritual. It’s really embarrassing to say I was re-converted to Christianity by the royal wedding, but I think it really could be true! The sheer beauty of it all communicated something of the transcendent: that there is ‘something more’ than what we initially perceive in the world. Suddenly the possibility of God seemed more credible, and I had a clear sense that I was being called back to church.”

Maeve Sherlock, Durham, St Nicholas

Maeve Sherlock, 57, is a Labour Peer who previously held senior roles in the voluntary and public sectors.

Share to your social accounts