Church Intern Matt Topping

 Durham Students Jenny Palmer and Aimee Haddock - Following a Faith Journey

Durham Students Jenny Palmer and Aimee Haddock – Following a Faith Journey
Church leaders have pointed to a remarkable service which saw more than 80 people confirmed at Durham Cathedral as evidence that the Church of England is in good health in the region. Clergy including the Right Revd Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, believe that the turnout, particularly the number of young people, shows that the church is not in decline, despite recently released Church of England census figures for 2010 showing an eight per cent drop in the Diocese. Two of those who were confirmed prove the point; Jenny Palmer from Oldham, and Aimee Haddock, who is from a village near Worcester, are both Durham University students and new members of the worshipping family at St Nicholas in Durham’s market square. Economic student Jenny, 20, said: “Before I came to university I was definitely an atheist and even in my first year I was still quite strongly an atheist. “One of the most important things that changed was the people I met. I have a lot of Christian friends and I saw their strong conviction in their faith and thought ‘they’re not stupid’ so I wondered what it was about their faith that strikes out as being true. It became clear that there was a logical case for it. ”I think that the Church is still relevant today because it informs how you treat other people and live your life. The morality aspect is important to me. There is right and wrong and it helps to know where that came from.” [expand-contract expand-title=”Read-More” swaptitle=”Close” trigclass=”expand-highlight” trigpos=”below” tag=”readon”] Engineering student Aimee, 22, said: “I was brought up going to Church but, when I came to university, I lost my way a bit and did not find really find a church. I had Christian friends who persuaded me to go to church and started going to church again and found my faith again.” The girls were among more than 80 people confirmed during the service at Durham Cathedral in May. The Durham and Wearmouth Deaneries’ confirmation marked Pentecost and the event was an ecumenical occasion as the Superintendent Minister of Durham and Deerness Methodist Circuit, the Revd Shaun Swithenbank, also took part and shared in confirming those from the ecumenical church of All Saints’ Newton Hall. The Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, who presided in the packed Cathedral, said: “I said to people at the beginning of the service that, when they next heard people saying that the Church was dying, they needed to tell people that they had been to confirmation service in which more than 80 people of all ages were making a strong commitment to follow Christ. The Revd Jeremy Chadd, of St Chad Parish, in Sunderland, said: “It’s always a great occasion when we have a deanery confirmation at the Cathedral but this one felt much more special than ever. There were more than 80 candidates for confirmation, and a massive crowd of their supporters. “The way the liturgy was done made it all come alive in a wonderful way. Instead of us all sitting in the Cathedral nave looking at a distant platform, waiting for the candidates to be presented for confirmation, the whole liturgy moved around the Cathedral from west to east. Candidates, clergy and crowds all followed along and gathered around as closely as possible at each place. “The sense of wonder and reverence and prayer was amazing as people gathered closely around the candidates at each station. The joy of singing as we moved added to it. I was left thinking that this must have been more like how it was on the Day of Pentecost for the Apostles and the 3,000 they baptised then, than any other confirmation I’ve known. “It felt, too, like it must have been when Cuthbert or Aidan went around Northumbria baptising and confirming. Our candidates all loved it and went home with a real sense that they had been part of something amazing.
 Church Intern Matt Topping

Church Intern Matt Topping
Another way in which the Diocese is helping to attract young people is an intern scheme running at St Nicholas’ Church in Durham’s market square, not far from the Cathedral. The four current interns include former Durham University student Matt Topping, who graduated in June 2012 and is on a ten-month internship. He said: “I have really enjoyed working at the church. I have been working mainly with students and it’s been good to help them develop their faith. The church does need young people to go forward for ordination. “We have a lot of students at St Nicks. The congregation has people from a young age to those who have lived with Christianity for eighty years. It is good to see young people who believe that the Christian faith is for them.” [/expand-contract] Download Images