A husband and wife team have taken over a group of rural parishes containing five churches in the Anglican Diocese of Durham.
South African born husband and wife team the Reverends Roni and Elisheva Mechanic, will be licensed on Wednesday (Sept 24) by the Bishop of Durham the Right Revd Paul Butler to run the five churches making up the Escomb group of parishes.
Elisheva will be Priest-in-Charge of the Escomb Group, which comprises Escomb Saxon Church, St Cuthbert’s Etherley, St Philip and St James’ Church, Witton le-Wear, St Paul’s Church Witton Park, St James’ Hamsterley. Roni will be Associate Priest of the Group.
They come to the role from Suffolk, where they gained wide experienced in the running of a rural parish, having come to England from their native South Africa.
Elisheva said: “I have a real passion for sharing the Word of God with others and being accepted for ordination training opened further the opportunity to equip myself for furthering my pastoral and preaching skills and generally my knowledge of the Bible and theology.
“The desire to share with others some of what I had begun to learn encouraged me to pursue a vocation in the Anglican Church as an ordained priest.
“We will be working together in the Escomb Group. We shall be drawing on the skills and experience which we have both gained in ministry and look forward to helping the parishes to grow and flourish and for people to discover their gifting to increase the mission outreach in this area.
“We hope to get to know people in the villages and engage in village activities as well as taking services in the five churches and relating ecumenically to the other denominations in the villages.
“We want to go out beyond the four walls of the church. I would like to see people growing and flourishing in their Christian faith.
“There is a wonderful world out there and God has things for us to do, which is exciting.“
Roni said that one of the challenges they face in their new ministry was attracting young people, he added: “We have ageing congregations and we need to make the church more relevant and reach out to the ‘now’ generation. We are looking for fresh expressions beyond the church. There are great opportunities here.”
Churchwarden Barrie Kirton acknowledged that the post had been filled quickly following the departure of the previous incumbents, also a husband and wife team.
He said: “We wanted a replacement as soon as possible. We wanted a team who could continue to lead our mission in our churches, Elisheva and Roni are the ideal couple to take us on to the next stage in our growth and ministry here in the Escomb Group.“