Double celebration at County Durham church

Reverend Keith Lumsdon reviews materials for the 160th Year celebrations(Photo: Keith Blundy)

A County Durham church is gearing up for its 160th anniversary celebration this September.

St Luke's in Ferryhill was moved brick by brick to its current site between 1849 and 1853. Celebrations to mark the occasion will be taking place from 20 to 29 September.

Overseeing preparations is the Reverend Keith Lumsdon, who is also celebrating the special milestone of 42 years as a clergyman and 25 years in his current parish.

Recalling his early days as a clergyman at St Michael's in South Westoe, South Shields, he said: "It was the days of the shipyards and there were four priests at the church, including an industrial chaplain who worked in the yards at Jarrow. We also had 120 Sea Scouts."

He later moved to work in Jarrow himself as part of Curate Jarrow Team, re-opening St John the Baptist Church and building the congregation up.

After 14 years in Jarrow, he moved to St Luke's at Ferryhill where he has been ever since, the parish eventually being expanded to take in Holy Trinity at neighbouring Cornforth.

"When I came to Ferryhill, the pits had long gone. The last closure was in 1966 and people tended to look to Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor for work," he recalls.

"The job has constantly changed and evolved. Over the years, we have developed the parish, including the idea of lay leadership, which is important to us as it supports the work we do.

"I covered Holy Trinity on an interregnum a couple of times before it was decided that it made sense to expand the parish.

"There has been a slow decline in congregation numbers down the years. We do get new people coming in but, unfortunately, we are losing our older people quicker.

"For all that, we continue to develop the parish, which is exciting. The celebrations in September will pay tribute to that work."

Part of the celebrations include a flower festival, a concert and a special service led by the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant.

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