The largest gathering of Church of England bishops seen in Newcastle Diocese in living memory took place on Holy Island yesterday.
A total of 26 bishops and their missional teams travelled to Northumberland, accompanied by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, to launch the Pathways Mission weekend.
Among them were the Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Christine Hardman and the Bishop of Berwick, the Right Reverend Mark Tanner.
Welcomed by the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne, the Ven Dr Peter Robinson, a service was held at Lindisfarne Priory to launch the weekend.
Nearly 300 events are taking place across Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside and parts of Cumbria, organised by parishes and deaneries to strengthen their relationships with local communities, which the bishops will be attending.
They include the blessing of fishing boats at Craster; a visit to the Blyth Tall Ship by Dr Sentamu, who will also bless runners and stage open-air baptisms at the start of the Great north Run; a Beer, Balls and Bishops night in Cramlington focusing on men’s sexual health; an event at the Sill on Hadrian’s Wall focusing on St Cuthbert and his heritage, in partnership with Northumberland National Park; Bishops for Breakfast in Etal village hall; and a service commemorating the Battle of Flodden.
Bishop Christine said: “The Pathways Mission is a significant opportunity for us to grow church and bring hope as we invite people to explore for themselves the transformative relationship of love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
"We are very blessed that we will be joined by the Archbishop of York and nearly 30 Bishops and their teams from across the Northern Province, and I am very much looking forward to working alongside them in our deaneries and parishes.”
Bishop Mark said: “I am really looking forward to the Pathways Mission. It is just wonderful when the church gets together and finds ways of celebrating the wonderful gift of life God pours out in Christ.
"We already have a rich, joyful and varied programme of events on offer throughout the diocese and I am looking forward to being part of some of them. Honestly, these weekends are great fun and I want to encourage everyone to get involved, to pray, to invite friends along, to join us in the celebration events, and even to plan an event of your own.”
The weekend concludes with three Celebrating Hope events taking place simultaneously at 4pm on Sunday – at at St Michael’s Alnwick, Newcastle Racecourse and Hexham Mart . These events are not ticketed and everyone is welcome.
Visit www.pathwaysmission.org.uk for more details.