The Venerable Nick Barker (Picture: Keith Blundy)

The retirement of The Venerable Nick Barker, Archdeacon of Auckland, will be marked by a farewell service at Durham Cathedral this coming Thursday (20th July at 7.00pm).

Nick and his wife Katherine will be joined by fellow clergy, friends, family, parishioners and well wishers from across the Diocese as he marks the end of his 10+ Years as Archdeacon and Parish Priest in the DIocese.

Nick and Katherine will be staying in the Diocese for the time being and are thrilled to be honoured with a farewell service in the Cathedral.

Nick said: “Durham has been a very fulfilling place to serve. Having been brought up in the Yorkshire Dales, and worked in the city of Manchester, and the carpet town of Kidderminster, the archdeaconry has embraced many aspects of the past. A return to the north has been a joy and the North East is special”

“My work as Archdeacon completed a ministry which has involved significant building work in every parish. On arrival for interview, I commented to the churchwardens at Holy Trinity, Darlington, on the scaffolding in the church. Their reply was, ‘We have read your CV!’ My grandfather was a builder, and his business continues to do work for churches to this day.

I often think it must run in the blood.

“Sleeping in the church every night for nearly three weeks to deter thieves was something to dine out on. We had responses from friends all over the country who saw the press coverage!

“But it is the people who have meant the most. I have met up with old friends and made many new ones. Holy Trinity has been a delight. It has been a privilege to work with a great team.”

The Rt Revd Tom Wright, who was Bishop of Durham when Nick Barker was appointed commented: “I was delighted when the official C of E list of ‘potential archdeacons’ had Nick Barker’s name near the top, and still more when the interviewing panels strongly recommended that Nick be appointed as Archdeacon of Auckland. Nick and I had been friends for forty years, having been at school and university together (including playing on the same rugby team), attended Scripture Union camps together in Scotland (sharing a love for climbing and canoeing), helping at one another’s weddings and being godfather to each other’s oldest sons.

“Though our paths had diverged geographically we stayed in touch, and I knew him to be a man of prayer and great faith, of good humour and good fun, with an enviable combination of pastoral wisdom and experience, practical wisdom for getting things done, the ability to fix a leaking roof or a leaking budget, a friendly approach to people of all sorts and conditions, and not least a well thought out understanding of the Christian faith sustained by a lifetime of careful Bible study in the original languages.

“That’s a great combination, and it was a joy to see Nick bring it all into the Diocese of Durham. Being himself brought up in the Yorkshire Dales, Nick was a natural choice to oversee the communities of Teesdale and Weardale; having already served on General Synod he brought considerable experience of the wider church. He and Katherine have thrown themselves enthusiastically into the life of Holy Trinity parish in Darlington and of the region as a whole, and their many friends will be delighted that they are retiring within the same area.

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said: “ Nick Barker has served the Archdeaconry of Auckland, and the Diocese of Durham as a whole wonderfully well over these past 10 years. He has also led Holy Trinity Darlington through a major refurbishment project, and seen growth in the congregation.

“Nick is always down to earth, sleeping in Holy Trinity during refurbishment for added security being a memorable example. He has been pastorally caring for clergy and congregations. He has always sought to bring people together, with careful listening and thought. He has been a fun, warm-hearted colleague for all with whom he has worked. Above all else, Nick has been a man of prayer.

“Katherine has had a distinguished career of her own as a teacher. She has worked closely alongside Nick in the parish and their home has been one of great hospitality. Katherine has also been supportive of clergy spouses.

Bishop Tom added: “I join the whole Diocese in thanking God for Nick and thanking Nick for his faithful and energetic ministry.”

Bishop Paul summed up Nick’s ministry by saying: “Together Nick and Katherine have shown us all something fresh of the Lord Jesus whom they love and serve. We pray for them in ‘retirement’ but look forward to still seeing them around whilst they live in the Diocese.”

Nick came to the Diocese in May 2007 to serve as Archdeacon of Auckland and Priest in charge of Holy Trinity Darlington. He was educated at Oriel College Oxford University before training for ordination at Trinity College Bristol. Prior to his ministry in Durham, Nick held posts in the Dioceses of Worcester, Manchester, and St Albans – where he served his Curacy.