Pupils from the four schools with certificates. (Picture supplied by: Andy Irvine - Venerable Bede CE Academy)

Four Church of England Secondary Schools in the Diocese of Durham have celebrated the culmination of six months of prayerful activity in each of the schools at a meeting in Durham.

Teams from each of the schools came together at Cuthbert House in Stonebridge Durham in July to share their experiences, celebrate their successes and report on their learning. 

Taking part were year 8 pupils from The Venerable Bede Church of England Academy in Sunderland, Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy in Stockton, Whitburn Church of England Academy in Sunderland and St Aidan’s Church of England Academy in Darlington.

The project which was named ‘Reservoirs of Hope’ began in February 2019 and set each school the task of setting up prayerful spaces in each of their schools.

The idea behind the project was the brainchild of Gill Booth Executive Headteacher for two of the schools, The Venerable Bede Church of England Academy and Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy. Gill said: “This has been a tremendous success. 

“The prayer spaces were set up and run by teams of young people and formed a place for students to be quiet and reflect on their lives, school and be to explore prayer in a variety of creative ways. Each school was left to decide how they would roll out the prayer space, the time, location, space and year group focus.”

Andy Harris, Diocesan Leader of Youth Mission and Ministry said: “Each of the schools gave an account on what had been achieved in their schools using a variety of presentation materials but all with a clear passion for the outcome. The enthusiasm for prayer was really infectious – it was a great morning of celebration and sharing.”

Phil Togwell, Director of Prayer Spaces in Schools, who has been instrumental in leading the project and in championing the growth of prayer spaces in schools across the Diocese said: “Pupils were asked what had been the best parts and what they had learnt from the project their responses included: A need to spread hope in the world; collective working to encourage positive mental health; prayer spaces should be accessible to everyone and that you don’t need to be religious to be involved; an opportunity to build my confidence when speaking and learning that many things can help to hope about your life and about others.”

At the end of the session, each participant was rewarded for their hard work with a copy of the book ‘The Teenage Prayer Experiment’ by former Durham vicar Miranda Threlfall-Holmes.

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