Two keen athletes will be ordained as Deacons in the Church of England Diocese of Durham in Durham Cathedral on the 2nd July.
Danny Driver and Simon Grundy both believe their running has had a significant impact on their faith journeys, each with different slant but both recognise that running is part of their faith and will remain a useful tool to engage with people in their ministry.
Danny who will be based at Gateshead, St George said: “I’ve loved sport since as long as I can remember. It was inevitable that I would play some sport because football in particular was so popular where I grew up in inner city Liverpool.
“Another inevitability was becoming a vicar since there are different members of my family already vicars. It was never something that was forced upon me. As I got more and more involved with sport travelling and competing nationally I realised that my Christian faith enabled me to compete in a way that honoured God in response to what God has done. I wear a blue wristband that says on it ‘Audience of One’ which basically means no matter how many people I compete In front of I’m doing it for the One and only important spectator – God. I remember hearing that famous Eric Liddell quote when I was a teenager ‘when I run I feel God’s pleasure’ and I thought that is so true.
“Moving up to Gateshead, where I competed several times as a teenager I am hoping to be able to show people that sport and the Christian faith don’t have to be separate but can be used together. Sport is a great way to build community and relationships with all sorts of people, hopefully during my role at St George’s on Durham Road in Gateshead we’ll be able to do this.”
Simon Grundy who will be based at Herrington, St Aidan, Penshaw, All Saints, Shiney Row, St Oswald added: “Running has been a transformative theme in my life in recent years. I run for fun, for the sense of freedom, to get out into communities and into nature. I carried my running kit around the UK as I travelled for work, though often all I did was carry it!
“Running also became something that was a Spiritual experience for me, where I’d let go what was on my mind or weighing me down, sometimes I’d pray as I ran.
“Realising that I was running away from what God was calling me to do and who he was calling me to be was a really significant point in accepting that God wanted me to become a vicar. I wasn’t looking to be a vicar, it wasn’t part of the path that I thought I was following but it was part of God’s plan for me. He’s made that clear in many different ways including with the message that ‘these are my people in this community, I love them and I want you to get to let them know’. I kept getting the image of Jonah, the Old prophet who tried to run away from what God was asking him to and ends up getting swallowed by the whale. I tried to ignore it at first but what God was saying was ‘stop running away’.
“When I began training at Cranmer Hall in Durham I had to share an object that was significant in my journey, it was my trail running shoes and the message ‘stop running away from me, run with me’.
“So I’ve gone from running for myself to running with and for God. I hope to get involved in a running club in the parish and will be spotted running around it. I’m also excited what ways running might help me support other communities if I can still run at the end of this challenge!”
Simon and Danny will be ordained as Deacons by the Bishop of Durham on Sunday 2nd July 2017 at 10am in Durham Cathedral.