The Church of England Diocese of Durham has appointed its new Diocesan Secretary.

The Rt Revd Paul Butler has announced that James Morgan (36), currently Director of Finance for the Diocese will be the new Diocesan Secretary, (the senior executive officer of the diocese) and will take up his post with immediate effect.

James is no stranger to the Diocese, having grown up in Durham and for many years has been a member of the PCC and Churchwarden, part-time organist and bell ringer at St Brandon’s Church in Brancepeth.

James joined the Diocese in March 2020 during the week that saw the closing of the office and everyone working from home due to COVID.  So it has been an interesting period for him as he has learnt about the diocesan finances, budget, COVID financial pains and getting to know people mainly using Zoom!

James joined KPMG in Newcastle after studying physics at Oxford University and took his accountancy exams before rising to be a senior manager during his 13 years there. Whilst he was on shared parental leave last year, he reflected on his calling and it was then that he applied to be the finance director of the Diocese

Commenting on his first six months with the Diocese, James said: 

“It’s been a really challenging period to be running the finance department, but it’s been great to get to know the people of the diocese; there are a lot of very dedicated and hardworking people here. It’s been an excellent opportunity to get to know those outside of my own parish, who do so much to contribute to our diocese. What it’s also done is to provide an opportunity for me to think about how things might work in the future, and during the period of vacancy in the Diocesan Secretary role, I’ve had a chance to see what needs doing. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take on some elements of that role so far which has been really valuable in widening my networks and developing experience and knowledge of the diocese. I think that’s going to be really useful as I take up the role.”

Asked what his early priorities might be he said: “What I’d like to do is to get to know people. It’s all the more difficult thanks to COVID, but it is important that I hear what people have to say and to understand what they want from the Diocese, and what we can do to support them at the parish level, particularly in this really challenging time.”

Asked about the challenges that face the wider Church in terms of changes of congregations and the impact of COVID on churches as a whole, James commented:

“COVID is divisive and is clearly putting a strain on all of society at the moment, which is just as apparent in church life as well. But I think that the key thing that the church can bring is the sense of the universal message and togetherness that it brings to society. Keeping our parishes working together and supporting them through these times is tough. Listening to them, hearing from them and talking to them, is I think, the core function of the Diocese at the moment. Providing that support in this ever-changing world of ever-changing regulations and rules is important and there’s also an opportunity for outreach, we saw that particularly towards the start of the crisis that a lot of people in a difficult time, turn to the Church. We need to be there to hear them and support them when they come to our door, whether that’s at a building or online.”

Bishop Paul said: “I am delighted that James has agreed to take on this role. He was the outstanding candidate during our recruitment process and his range of skills that he already demonstrates as Director of Finance is very applicable to the wider Diocesan Secretary role, and I am looking forward to working with him in the coming years.”

The full interview with James can be viewed below.

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