With less than two months to go until our Pathways Mission, people across the diocese are gearing up for a jam-packed and exciting weekend of missional activities.
We will be the fifth diocese to host a mission weekend, after the initial vision was first imagined at a Bishops’ retreat on Holy Island in 2014.
In this news post, we put the Pathways Mission into focus and share with you the latest details of the event.
Blessings, beer, balls and much more…
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, along with 27 Bishops from the Northern Province and 12 mission teams will descend on our diocese from Thursday 6 to Sunday 9 September.
They will be visiting our 12 deaneries to take part in a range of mission activities in Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, and parts of Cumbria.
These activities are being arranged and coordinated by parishes and deaneries in our diocese, with the purpose of engaging with people who may not traditionally attend church events.
Pathways Mission is part of ‘growing church bringing hope’, our diocesan vision launched last year.
The aim of the weekend is to forge strong relationships with our local communities and to give people of all ages the chance to hear more about our faith and how Christianity can touch their lives.
More than 260 events are happening across the four days and feature a range of interesting, fun and spiritual concepts.
The Plough in Cramlington will be the setting for a Beer, Balls and Bishops session with the night focusing on men’s sexual and spiritual health, while punters at the Plough Inn in Mitford will see their usual barman replaced by Archbishop Sentamu who will be pouring pints, blessing the pub and speaking to the locals – the first round is on him!
Further north in Craster, a blessing of fishing boats will be followed by some DIY kipper racing, and outside Hexham Abbey, passers-by will be able to interview a Bishop on a Box.
In the parish of Alston Moor, a visit to the Hub Museum will be followed by a motorbike ride, and in Blyth, Archbishop Sentamu will be visiting a Tall Ship that will soon be setting sail on an Antarctic expedition.
Newcastle Cathedral will host a special evening – open to the public – with Archbishop Sentamu, where he will speak about his faith and answer questions from attendees. The Lord Mayor of Newcastle will be in attendance.
Across the diocese, hundreds of pupils from our church schools will meet and greet the visiting teams and welcome them to school assemblies and RE lessons.
Our Pathways Mission would not be complete without a special nod to all of the runners taking part in the Great North Run on the Sunday of our event.
Archbishop Sentamu will visit St Luke’s Church next to the starting line and will greet and pray with runners before they set off on their half marathon race.
Other events planned for the weekend include outdoor baptisms, pub quizzes, social evenings, fun days and guest suppers.
Revd Capt Steve Dixon, part of the Pathways Mission steering group, said: “It is amazing how much energy and imagination has already gone into the organisation of events for the Pathways Mission weekend. There will be much excitement and fun to be had at all the events, and no doubt much hard work organising and promoting all that is happening in each deanery.
“We are praying that God will bless all the events that have been planned and that those who attend will be interested to find out more about Christianity and what becoming a follower of Christ could mean in their lives.”
The last day of our Pathways Mission will see three major services taking place in our diocese to celebrate all that has happened over the weekend.
We are encouraging all those involved in the event to invite family, friends and neighbours to the Celebrating Hope services to be held in Alnwick, Hexham and Newcastle on Sunday 9 September.
The services will feature a message from Archbishop Sentamu and guests will hear inspiring stories of faith and the chance to discover what Christianity could mean for them.
There will be the opportunity to receive prayer at the end of the service from the visiting Bishops and their teams.
There is space for more than 1,400 people at the Celebrating Hope services, and they are not ticketed, so simply come along with family, friends and neighbours.
The Pathways Mission weekend is one part of the mission of the diocese as we move ahead with ‘growing church bringing hope’.
Therefore, it is important that as we prepare for the events of the weekend we are also prepared for people who might want to make further enquiries about faith.
There are many resources available to help those who will want to find out more after Pathways.
Pilgrim, Alpha, Emmaus, Credo, Essence and the very accessible Start! course, all have a good track record in a range of contexts to help people explore more about living the Christian life.
Using a suggestion from the Leading Your Church into Growth programme, why not set a date now to start an enquiries course straight after the event so that you can offer an invitation to people during Pathways Mission activities?
If you would like to know more about the resources available for mission follow up, please get in touch with the Religious Resource Centre at Church House on 0191 270 4161 or contact our Local Evangelism Officer, Canon John Sinclair on email@example.com or 0191 232 1939.
We would love you to share your photos, thoughts, prayers and activities on social media, both in the lead-up to and during Pathways Mission.
Please use the hashtag #PathwaysMission when publishing posts relating to the weekend – this will allow us to easily see all of the preparations and activities taking place!
The official diocesan social media accounts will like and share your posts which will increase engagement and the reach of your content.
We want to create a real buzz on social media and we can only do that with your help!
Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching @ncldiocese and if we don’t already, we’ll follow you back.
If you would like help in setting up a social media account for your church or parish, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Pathways Mission is a significant opportunity for us to grow church and bring hope as we invite people to explore for themselves the transformative relationship of love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
“We are very blessed that we will be joined by the Archbishop of York and more than 20 Bishops and their teams from across the Northern Province, and I am very much looking forward to working alongside them in our deaneries and parishes.
“There are over 260 events happening across the diocese and I encourage you to support these in any way you can, most of all I encourage you to have the courage to be bold and invite your families, friends and neighbours to come with you. Pathways Mission is an engaging way to introduce people to our faith. An opportunity not to be missed.”
“I am really looking forward to the Pathways Mission; it is just wonderful when the church gets together and finds ways of celebrating together the wonderful gift of life God pours out in Christ. We already have a rich, joyful, and varied programme of events on offer throughout the diocese and I am looking forward to being part of some of them.
“Honestly, these weekends are great fun and I want to encourage everyone to get involved, to pray, to invite friends along, to join us at the celebration events, and even to plan an event of your own. It is never too late, and there is no one style of thing we have to do. Having fun together as Christians is a profound picture of the hope we have through our faith…
“… or to put it more formally; the point of a weekend like this is simply to enable each other in finding ways of living out the faith we have found in Christ and offering others the same gift we have received. God’s love in Christ is the best gift we can ever receive.
“Thanks for all you are doing.”
Archbishop of York
“My fellow Bishops and I, with our teams, are excited about joining you in eight weeks. We’re all on the Pathways mission! What a privilege to set aside a weekend to share with you and your family, friends and neighbours the love and life of God in Jesus Christ.
“I hope you are preparing by praying for Pathways and have already invited many people to come along with you.
“We will walk with you in the footsteps of Cuthbert, Hilda and all the Northern saints by proclaiming together Jesus Christ as Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord fill you with joy and love.”
From ice cream and craft events to fun days and social evenings, event planning is in full swing for our Pathways Mission. From September 6 to 9, bishops and their teams from across the Northern Province – led by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu – will be visiting our diocese for an exciting weekend of mission. Parishes from across the diocese are organising events and activities that will allow the bishops to engage with people in our communities who would not usually attend church events. Revd Capt Steve Dixon shares with us the latest news and plans.
As the Pathways Mission weekend draws closer, parishes are getting ready to welcome the visiting Bishops and their teams and are arranging some intriguing activities.
Pub quizzes, school assemblies and RE lessons, social evenings, fun days and guest suppers have all been planned to welcome new people into the life of our churches and to encourage them to think about faith for themselves.
Benjamin Carter, Priest in Charge of Beltingham, Henshaw and Haydon Bridge, and Suzanne Cooke, Team Vicar of Doddington, Ilderton, Kirknewton and Wooler, have been working in partnership with the Northumberland National Park to organise an event at The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre in Once Brewed.
The exhibition space at The Sill will be a hive of craft activities helping people to discover the heritage of pilgrimage and a nearby tent village will host storytelling, badge and bracelet making. Through these activities people will be able to discover the history and journeys of St Cuthbert.
Also in the National Park at the River Glen there will be Anglo-Saxon re-enactments and baptisms in the river, telling the story of St Paulinus’ missionary visit.
Both events during the Pathways weekend are part of the church’s wider engagement and partnership with the National Park bringing together connections between the landscape and spirituality.
For those in the Parish of the Holy Nativity, Chapel House, there will be an invitation to an ice-cream Sundae (or should that be Sunday).
The chilly treat will be the theme of a special family service where Vicar Juliet Stephenson asked, ‘How do you call people to worship when the church has no bells?’ Her answer is to use an ice-cream van.
Baptism families, schools and those who attend the weekly toddler sessions will all be invited to join in the colourful service with a visiting Bishop sharing in the worship.
The Pathways weekend will be rounded off by three special services at the Cattle Mart in Hexham, St Michael’s Church in Alnwick and Newcastle Racecourse, all at 4pm on Sunday 9 September.
These services will be an opportunity to invite family, friends and neighbours to hear inspiring stories and to find out more about what Christianity could mean for them.
The Pathways Mission is set to be an exciting and moving weekend where people will discover faith afresh and will have a lasting legacy as it encourages new initiatives in mission throughout our Diocese.
Back in March this year, a team from Newcastle Diocese took part in the ‘Moving Mountains’ Bishops Mission Weekend in Carlisle Diocese.
We caught up with Bishop Mark’s team and asked them some questions to see that we can learn for our Pathway’s Mission
As we draw ever closer to the Pathways Mission weekend in September, there is increasing excitement around all the great activities that are being planned in each deanery.
Innovative and imaginative events will be happening in tents, cafes, ships, schools and town squares, all with the aim of sharing the gospel with our communities.
But while we are readying ourselves to receive the visiting Bishops and their teams, and planning our mission events, don’t forget to think how we might provide follow up for those who respond to the call to faith.
There are some very usable follow up resources available. The Alpha and Start! courses have both been recently revised to give them a contemporary feel.
The Pilgrim series begins with basic teaching about Christianity and builds into a whole discipleship course.
These are just three of the many courses which could be used in a wide variety of contexts. You might want to try out one or more of these courses before you decide which fits the community your church serves.
The North East Religious Resources Centre at Church House, Percy Main, has many follow up materials you could try.
A good tip offered in the Leading Your Church into Growth course is to organise the dates for follow-up in advance of the Pathways Mission weekend.
That way there will be a firm date already set to invite those who are interested in finding out more throughout the weekend. And even if you only have one person who is inquiring about faith, it is still worth having a date and inviting them to discover more about Jesus.
Are you still searching for ideas?
We caught up with Rev Julie Mooney, Team Vicar and Minister from the Willington Team following their week of mission last December.
Why did you decide to hold a week of mission?
There are about 28,000 people living in the Willington Team area and with only about 100 of them worshipping at our churches on a weekly basis. We wanted an opportunity to reach out to everyone in our community.
What sort of events and activities did you plan?
As our mission week was in December we incorporated a Christmas theme in several of the events. However all of these activities could be carried out at any time of year, simply with a different theme, such as Harvest, Summer etc.
Our aim was to hold at least one event every day and we began the week with a special morning All Age Toy and Communion Service at the Church of the Good Shepherd where many toys were collected and donated to the ‘Walking With’ charity.
In the afternoon we held a Christingle Service with afternoon tea at St Mary’s. Our churches were open for prayer, music, lighting candles, Taize, Carol singing and through advertising and invitation a number of people, who do not regularly come to church, joined us.
This generated some incredible faith conversations and prayers. Bishop Mark joined us for some of those conversations at our ‘Grill the Bishop’ coffee morning. It was incredible to witness the need for prayer in the area, not only by adults but children too. Some of the prayers were attached to baubles and hung on the tree outside of church, which helped our community see that we are a praying community.
The Toddlers and Teddies singalong we held proved to be so popular that we are hoping to start a Toddler Group at Church of the Good Shepherd later this year. Some of the mums who came along have become involved in the planning and have begun attending church services. What a wonderful response to our mission efforts.
Carol Singing at our local shops not only helped raise vital funds for The Children’s Society but we were blessed too with support from Gary, Manager of Dicksons butchers, who firstly joined us in song, then provided free hot drinks and delicious steak and mince pies! What a treat. And what a wonderful way to get our community involved in mission.
We didn’t make the Guinness Book of Records with our youth group ‘Human Star’ attempt but had fun taking photos and talking about the birth of Jesus. And always good for a laugh, the Willington Team pooled their ‘comedic skills’ for a Comedy Night at Wallsend Labour Club.
Having sat through many, many jokes (and some were terrible!!) the audience was blessed with a performance from our own diocesan stand-up comedian Revd Canon John Sinclair. John shared the gospel and some of his own faith story. Over 60 people heard the Good News of Jesus Christ that night, including several who do not regularly attend any church.
We ended our mission week with joint worship at St Paul’s followed by breakfast and again were joined by several people who don’t normally go to church.
How would you sum up your week?
The week was busy, fun, hard work at times, but fruitful without a doubt. Our mission activities helped us to reach our community in a way that our regular church services do not.
This highlighted the importance in meeting people where they are – in their daily lives and with their daily needs, and by reaching out through a number of events we were able to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s what mission is all about.
It was a real honour to accompany Bishops Christine, Mark and Frank on two Bishops in Mission weekends in Blackburn and Durham Dioceses.
Both weekends had a very different flavour, one being rural and the other urban. I was impressed with the creativity of the parishes I worked with who had organised a wide variety of activities such as a men’s breakfast, beach BBQ, women’s pottery workshops, grill a Bishop (and curate), school assemblies and RE classes, small group and prayer meetings, litter picks, a talent night, pub crawl and quiz, street evangelism with a God o’meter – quite exhausting, but immense fun. All of the activities were aimed at reaching out to those beyond the church with the simple message of God’s love.
While all the activities went well, I was concerned that many churches felt uneasy about inviting their family, friends and neighbours along to the wonderful events they had organised. It can take quite a leap of faith to ask someone along to a church activity. As a result, our Diocesan Evangelism Task Group set to work producing a resource to help people think through their approach to invitation. The material is now available here .
My lasting impressions of the Blackburn and Durham weekends are the warm, friendly people we encountered, the opportunities to really engage with people’s understanding of spirituality and Christianity, chances to pray with people, and the enormous fun we had. It was a real joy to discover afresh that God is ahead of us and active in people’s lives beyond the church and with us as we go out in mission. I’m sure our Pathways Mission weekend will be the highlight of the year and an exciting time in the life of our Diocese as we step out in faith and with the good news of Jesus.
Revd Capt Steve Dixon
Assistant Curate, All Saints’, G osforth
My main memory of the Bishops Mission in Durham was how much we laughed. The first evening was basically spent doing a pub-crawl around Hartlepool trying to find answers to a quiz the local vicar had set us. It was masses of fun and a great way to meet people.
Then there was the men’s breakfast in another pub… this time there was less beer and more bacon, but the company was just as excellent.
The biggest laugh, though, was an outrageous evening of local entertainment arranged by Fr Paul, now the Vicar of Ponteland. We had everything from singing nuns to another quiz… and through it all was the chance to explain why our faith in Christ means so much to us.
I do find that most people are genuinely fascinated by who we are in the church, and love to come along to stuff. Mission can seem a bit scary but is actually about meeting real people who are really nice and genuinely interested. My hope for our ‘Pathways’ mission is that the diocese will resound with laughter as many new friendships are forged, and, in time, lots of people come to discover what we value so much in Christ.