Priest-in-Charge, The Ascension (Berwick Hills)

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This is a modern catholic parish with wonderful people and exciting opportunities. Counted amongst the 10% most deprived communities in the country, it shares the mix of characteristics typical of urban estates. There is a strong community feel. The church is generally regarded with respect, and there is scope for clergy to take a leading part in the development of community. New ventures and partnerships, involving churches and other agencies, are steadily making a positive difference in Middlesbrough, as can be seen from looking at the website of our Joint Venture with the Church Urban Fund, Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland. This is a post for someone committed to collaborative working within the parish and across the wider deanery.

We serve the three housing estates of Park End, Berwick Hills and Pallister Park in Middlesbrough, which were established in the post war years of the 1950’s. The parish covers an area of four square miles and has a population of about 17000 people. There are two other churches in this parish, the Baptist church and the Salvation Army. There are three primary schools and an Academy for 11+ pupils. We have good relationship with two of the primary schools and the Academy has used our church building for Christmas services. In addition we have good relationships with Care Homes / sheltered housing in the parish.

Our worship is centred on the Eucharist. Sunday morning is attended by 25-30 people and 6-8 people come on a Wednesday morning. Both services are followed by fellowship and coffee in the church hall. The worship in the church is lively and enthusiastic. The organist has been in post for 40 years but is keen to work co-operatively with the priest and is open to using a variety of styles of music and there is a small choir who contribute on a weekly basis. We have 2 weekly study / prayer groups led by our Readers.

We have a wonderful modern building with a good-sized parish hall, widely used by the church, the community and the Diocese – for example, we host the York School of Ministry each week. However we know that we can do more with the blessings that we have. The parish of the Ascension has a key part to play in the Deanery action plan for East Middlesbrough, working closely with neighbouring clergy. We have an excellent team and buildings available at the Ascension to play an integral part in the exciting things happening in East Middlesbrough, an area ranked as one of the 10% most deprived parishes in England and so a focus for the Diocesan strategy to ‘Reach the people we currently don’t’.

Two years ago we converted one of our narthexes to a chapel dedicated to St. Thomas now that the people of our neighbouring parish, Brambles Farm, have no building to worship in. Fr. Terry holds a service here once a month so that the identity of the St Thomas’ congregation is maintained.

The four bedroomed vicarage and gardens at the rear of the church has been completely refurbished during the vacancy and the curate’s house at the front has been kept in excellent order by the tenants who occupy it at the moment. We would hope that our new priest would have the ability to be a Training Incumbent at some point.

This is a calling for a priest, a friend of Jesus, who will love God’s people, build up the core group of worshippers, imaginatively expand the range of accessible worship, and exchange supportive relationships with neighbouring parishes. Most of the parish’s residents have no regular contact with church, and so a major part of the priest’s task will be to explore ways to bridge the gap — knowing the people and being known by them, and equipping existing church people to be advocates and ambassadors of faith as they live out their daily lives. An important aspect will be to discern how an appropriate style and means of evangelism can be established, finding opportunities to show and explain how the people of Berwick Hills can glimpse God’s love and purpose.

The Ascension was led for over 20 years by Canon David Hodgson, who died in office in October 2016. He was a much loved larger-than-life character who is greatly missed by parishioners and by colleagues across the diocese. David laid a secure foundation of modern catholic sacramental worship, prayer and study, and that legacy is something that we would all want to see honoured in the future. The people are committed to engage collaboratively with clergy and parishes representing the spectrum of Anglicanism. Whilst the parish is no longer designated for extended episcopal oversight, among the worshippers at the Ascension there are some who in conscience cannot receive the sacramental ministry of female clergy, whilst most others do not hold a Traditionalist position. Everyone involved in the parish agrees that it is important that this matter should not be a cause of division within our congregation: rather, all must be willing to worship and work together, taking opportunities to further God’s mission in this community. It is essential that the appointee works closely with clergy and people in Middlesbrough and beyond who hold the whole range of views on the respective ministries of men and women, fully recognises the orders and ministry of all other clergy, and is committed to the Five Guiding Principles as expressed in the House of Bishops’ guidance.

Our ideal candidate would

  • Work closely with other Priests in the East Middlesbrough area and in the deanery generally.
  • Lead us in study of the Bible and teach us the faith.
  • Go out and meet with people within the Parish.
  • Encourage congregation to work as a team.
  • Be firm but fair and give praise and credit when it is warranted.
  • Be forward thinking and willing to share with his team at all times, able to delegate.
  • Be willing to work with us to plan Church Festivals which encourage the whole community to attend.
  • Be fun loving with a good sense of humour.

Deadline for applications: 27th September 2018
Interviews are scheduled for: To be confirmed

Full details about this opportunity can be found in the attached documents.

For an informal conversation please contact The Bishop of Whitby, the Rt. Revd Paul Ferguson (01642 593273) or The Ven. Samantha Rushton, Archdeacon of Cleveland (Tel: 01642 706 095)

The Diocese of York is a family of 607 churches and 126 schools in 470 parishes, which extends from Middlesbrough on the River Tees to Hull on the River Humber, and from the east coast of Yorkshire about as far west as the A1 road.

Led and guided by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, our vision is to be a family of Generous Churches Making and Nurturing Disciples. We are currently working through a Diocesan Strategy that focuses on:

  • Reaching those we currently don't
  • Moving to Growth
  • Achieving sustainable finances

Find out more about us at our microsite:

Our official website can be found here:

Unfortunately it is not always straightforward for clergy from overseas to be appointed to posts in the Church of England. The policy of the UK Border Agency is that normally the organisation making an appointment has been able to prove that it is possible to appoint a person who is a national of a European Economic Area country, before a visa giving permission to work will be issued to a person who comes from elsewhere.