The Parish of North Wearside in Sunderland is strengthening its team to increase church involvement in the life of the community. They are advertising for a part-time urban discipleship development worker in North Wearside, a large urban parish running for 2.5 miles from east to west along the north bank of the River Wear. Clergy in the area say that they are already seeing signs of increased community involvement in church life and hope to increase that by developing the use of church buildings and supporting those who use them. The parish has two churches that are open for worship on Sundays, Holy Trinity, Southwick, and St. Cuthbert’s, Red House. The Venerable Bede Church, Town End Farm, has closed for worship but still belongs to the parish and is to be used more for community activities. Revd Jennifer (Jen) Bradshaw, Team Vicar, said: “We are in the great position of having three full time clergy working in the parish which has already given us extra capacity to try to help the congregations engage more with the local community by developing opportunities for new groups to grow. “We want to make the church buildings a source of support and blessing to the local community. There are already some beginnings of new engagement in the parish including good relationships with local community and residents groups, the Bridges Community Bank and the exciting potential of working with the Cultural Spring, a wonderful initiative that aims to bring out and develop the creativity of people in Wearside and South Tyneside. “We feel that the St. Bede’s building has particular potential for development. The building includes a café-style meeting room with small kitchen attached recently renovated by Gentoo and TEF residents association and the church. There is also a meeting room which could be developed as a computer suite/classroom for training. There is also good office space. “The church could be an excellent venue for many kinds of small group meetings and training events. “It is in the heart of a large residential community where reliance on public transport is common and where local community facilities are largely absent.” Some of the ideas being discussed for St. Bede’s church include:
- Development of community banking
- Becoming a distribution centre for a food bank scheme called One for the Basket and one for the wardrobe, set up by the Faith in Communities Partnership.
- Becoming a centre for training on health issues particularly cooking of healthy meals and health advice.
- Development of an “electronic village hall”
Jen said: “Anyone wanting to apply for the post would have a huge range of possibilities to work with. We hope they would feel able to use their gifts and strengths to help people flourish here. With the extra capacity of clergy in the team, we are in a good position to encourage the development of the groups already meeting and put major effort into future church and community development.” Anyone interested in applying for the post of Unlock Discipleship Development Worker should contact Dawn Lonsdale at [email protected]