Church helps community breathe

Published 14 January 2013
Photo: Keith Blundy
Bishop Mark with Pam Barmby (c) and Team Vicar St Michael and All Saints, the Reverend Canon Caroline Dick (r)

The Bishop of Jarrow has visited Witton Gilbert, near Durham, to see the work of a church in promoting health and wellbeing in the local community.

The Breathing Space project is a ministry of St Michael's and All Angels Church that makes the building available to the community for wellbeing activities.

During his visit to the project, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant dedicated building extensions, including a new porch, office and toilet facilities.

He also commissioned Pam Barmby in her new role working in the Durham North Team Ministry as Breathing Space Project Officer.

In his sermon, the bishop praised the church's witness to the local community over its 800-year history.

He also reflected on the way in which good health made it easier for people to be loving, generous and less critical of others.

"It is because of who God is, and what he has done in Jesus, that we can become the people and the world we are meant to be," he said.

"So what we need in our communities are times and places which remind us of who we truly are, and how life is truly to be lived.

"And, of course, discovering who we truly are, and how life is truly to be lived, is the way to true health."

Mrs Barmby has a background in community development, working both locally and internationally and is also a qualified life-coach and self-esteem mentor.

She will work part-time over the next two years in her new post, which has been funded jointly by the Diocese of Durham, County Durham and Darlington Primary Care Trust, Christ's Hospital in Sherburn and The Seedbed Trust.

"I am very excited to be working for the Breathing Space project. I am inspired by the vision of combining emotional health and wellbeing with environmental and spiritual activities," Mrs Barmby said.

"I look forward to welcoming many different groups and individuals into this beautiful church and honouring such a special place."

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