Revd Rick Simpson to be next Archdeacon of Auckland. (Picture: Keith Blundy)

A celebratory Evensong on Sunday 11 February at Durham Cathedral saw new appointments within the Diocese of Durham and at Durham Cathedral.
 
Simon Wood, a serving judge with lifelong links to music and volunteering in the Church of England, has been installed as a Lay Member of Chapter and a Lay Canon of the Cathedral. Two existing members of Chapter, Ivor Stolliday and Cathy Barnes, have been made Lay Canons. The Chapter is the Cathedral’s governing body, chaired by the Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett.  Its members are a combination of clergy and lay people and represent a breadth of experience.
 
The Reverend Rick Simpson, formerly of St Brandon’s, Brancepeth, in the Diocese of Durham, has been installed as the Archdeacon of Auckland, a senior leadership position within the Diocese of Durham. This installation follows the retirement of the Venerable Nick Barker in July last year.

In his new role, Rick Simpson is responsible for the Archdeaconry in the southern part of the Diocese. This includes Stockton and Darlington on its southern boundary, Teesdale and Weardale in the North and West, and Bishop Auckland. He will also take the lead on interim ministry in the Diocese, initially assisting the new Priest in Charge at Holy Trinity & St Cuthbert Darlington.
 
Commenting on his appointment, Rick said: “I am hugely excited to have been appointed Archdeacon of Auckland. Within the Church of England as a whole and also in the Diocese of Durham this is a time of real challenge, but also great opportunity. I look forward very much to joining Bishop Paul and his Leadership Team, and working alongside the members and leaders of our churches, as we try together to ensure that all we do in worship, mission and ministry celebrates and shares the love and blessing of God.”
 
Simon Wood, who has been installed as a Lay Member of Chapter and honorary Lay Canon during Sunday’s Evensong service, was born in North Shields and spent his formative years as a Chorister at Durham Cathedral. He went on to the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle before studying law at Newcastle University. Entering the legal profession, Simon progressed to the Bar, where over the course of an almost 40 year career he has served as a barrister and judge across the north of England and beyond. Simon was appointed as a full time Circuit Judge in 2008, and devotes the majority of his professional time to the Family Court, ruling on cases involving children in the care system.
 
Simon has sung in choirs ever since leaving the Chorister School, including in Newcastle Cathedral Choir and, since 1982, as a member of what is now the Chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, based at the Sage Gateshead.
 
“My time as a chorister at Durham Cathedral was the most important formative experience of my life, leaving an indelible mark on the pattern of my life.” Simon says, “It is therefore both a privilege and a pleasure to be able to make a further contribution to the Cathedral. In my case it will be built particularly on my legal and governance experience. I look forward to joining over 750 volunteers who are so moved by this remarkable place as to want to contribute to its success as a place of prayer and worship, as the spiritual hub of the Diocese of Durham, and as a unique World Heritage site with all its historic associations.”
 
Ivor Stolliday and Cathy Barnes are both Lay Members of the Chapter of Durham Cathedral, contributing to its governance. Ivor Stolliday’s other governance roles include Chair of Visit County Durham; Cathy Barnes’ professional background is in education and she has previously been Chair of the National Glass Centre, Sunderland.
 
The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham says, “We welcome Simon to the Chapter of Durham Cathedral and are sure his wealth of experience and affinity with Durham and North East England will be of huge benefit to the Cathedral and the wider community.  We congratulate the Reverend Rick Simpson on his appointment as Archdeacon of Auckland.  His local knowledge and understanding of the needs of the Diocese of Durham gained as Vicar of St Brandon’s, Brancepeth, stand him in good stead as he takes on the challenges of his new role.”
 
The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham preached at the service and officiated over the installations.  Music was sung by Durham Cathedral Choir and included John Tavener’s Collegium Regale and O Clap your hands by Orlando Gibbons.

Bishop Paul’s Sermon (Download Here)

Installation of Archdeacon of Auckland and Lay Canons 11 February 2018

“Blessing our communities in Jesus name for the transformation of us all.”

This is our Diocesan vision. We read of Transformation in our New Testament lesson.

“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

We are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. That’s what God is doing in and through his people. He is transforming us. So today Rick, Simon, Cathy and Ivor, I want to remind you, alongside everyone else gathered here, that you are called to real personal transformation into the image of Jesus Christ. This does not happen, as you well know, all of a sudden, it is from one degree of glory to another. Sometimes perhaps from one minute rather than one degree. And this comes from living in and by the Spirit. It does not come from our own effort, it is a work of the Spirit of God in us. And this transformation, Paul says, comes through seeing God’s glory reflected in the mirror. Reflected in other followers of Jesus Christ for each of us is a mirror to the other. So in the life of the Chapter, Simon, you will mirror Jesus to Cathy and Ivor and to the Dean and to the rest of the Chapter, and they will mirror Jesus back to you, so that you are each transformed. You might find it hard to believe Rick, but in the Bishop’s Leadership Team, each of us will seek to reflect Jesus to you as you also seek to reflect Jesus to us. So that we are all being transformed.

 

TRANSFORMATION IN THE CATHEDRAL

All four of you have a responsibility for the life of this place and its community. What does it mean for the cathedral to be a place and a community of transformation? When it expresses it through prayer and worship for it is as we worship the living God. It is as we place ourselves in his presence in prayer that we find transformation. It’s through the prayer and worship that others will be transformed. Here also we will find transformation through the hospitality of this place, as people are welcomed and cared for. Every last person who comes through the doors, for whatever reason, is to be offered hospitality in the name of Jesus Christ in a way that reflects something of Jesus to that person. And of course the cathedral community must always be open to the fact that each and every last person who comes through the door may well also reflect something of Jesus to us. The hospitality of this place is a vital part of how transformation happens.

And then this place is in the business of communicating and sharing the good news of god in Jesus Christ. It does so visually. It does so through its words. It does so as it interprets to people who come. The stories which are told in its woodwork, in its stones, in its glass and the people who gather here. Constantly being a place that seeks to communicate the good news of God in Jesus Christ. When people leave here it must be our hope and our prayer that they go speaking first not of its glorious architecture, not of its wonderful saints but of the Jesus whom it stands to represent. You all four have a responsibility to help the cathedral be a place of transformation for all that enter its doors and for the community to which it speaks across the region.

 

ARCHDEACON AS AGENT OF TRANSFORMATION

Rick as an archdeacon may I suggest that it is your task to be an agent of transformation. That you are called to encourage transformation in the parishes across your archdeaconry. That you have a responsibility to see reflections of the glory of God in the people and the communities that you serve as archdeacon but you also have a responsibility to help people see the glory in one another and in all that God is doing in and around us. And if you are an agent of transformation then part of your responsibility is to help people handle the change. We all know that many of us, including the Bishop, can struggle with change but part and parcel of your calling is to help people recognise where that transformation is needed and help them take the journey. So exercise your legal role so that worship and mission are enabled not hindered.

 

TRANSFORMATION FOR US ALL

Now I have addressed the four in particular through most of this, but I hope as you’ve listened you’ve understood and heard that Paul said “all of us with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord.” It’s a stark contrast with Moses that he refers to. Moses had a unique experience on the mountain that no one else shared. What Paul says is that in the face of Jesus Christ and in the life of the Spirit every single one of us is privileged and honoured to behold God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ and to be those who act as mirrors of their glory to one another and to the world. Every one of us gathered here is called to be a reflector of the glory of God to others and that also as we see that glory reflected in other people in their lives, in their words, in their care and their kindness so we will allow the spirit to transform us from one degree of glory to another. For one day our hope is that we will see Jesus Christ as he is and be like him. Until that day may we let the Spirit transform us one degree at a time into the image of Jesus Christ so that the world might see his love. Amen