This 'Resource Church’ builds on experience from around the Church of England and will be based in the centre of Newcastle, working alongside the Cathedral and other local churches to engage particularly with students, young people, the business community and those in need.
It is one of the initiatives that the Diocese of Newcastle identified two years ago as part of its strategy ‘growing church bringing hope’.
Welcoming Ben’s appointment, the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman said: “It is wonderful to be able to welcome Ben into the Diocese, and to see him take on this very significant role. Ben brings a wealth of experience both from his work at St Michael-le-Belfrey and in the leadership team of New Wine and I look forward to him establishing and developing this exciting new initiative. This is great news for Newcastle, and great news for our Diocese.”
The Bishop of Berwick, the Rt Revd Mark Tanner, who leads the Resource Church project, commented: “I am delighted we are able to move forward with the establishment of a Resource Church in Newcastle and that Ben Doolan has accepted the appointment as leader of this project. Ben brings lots of experience and wisdom from his work and a great track record of working with others in the Dioceses and networks of which he has been part in York and Sheffield.”
The Resource Church will formally launch in January 2019, and as a centre of excellence concerning mission and church planting, it will provide resource for the missional growth of the parishes of Newcastle Diocese, across a range of traditions and geographical diversity. This work will include the establishment of an intern scheme and the provision of training for Curates in pioneering ministries which are geared towards church planting in a wide range of contexts.
Ben said: “This is a very exciting time for the Diocese of Newcastle as we look to be ‘growing church bringing hope’. I believe that planting a Resource Church in the city centre of Newcastle is a fantastic opportunity to join in with other churches in the Diocese to see this bold and engaging vision come to fruition by the grace of God.
“I know that a key Diocesan goal is that church life in the city centre will be more engaged, vibrant and growing, particularly with students and young professionals. In Newcastle there is incredible potential for a city centre Resource Church to work with other city centre churches, including the Cathedral, to see this goal realised.
“There are approximately 67,000 students in Newcastle and the city is consistently ranked as the ‘best university city’ in the UK. With less than one percent of university students engaging in church nationally, this is a significant time for a resource church to begin to reach out and serve the many thousands of students and young adults who do not know the life and freedom that Jesus Christ brings.”
The Revd Matthew Porter, Vicar of The Belfrey in York, added: “The congregation of St Michael-le-Belfrey are thrilled to be sending Ben Doolan and a team to support this exciting new initiative in Newcastle. Ben is a gifted people-gatherer with an infectious faith and a passion to be serving God's Transformation of the North.”
The Revd Paul Harcourt, National Leader of New Wine, said: “As part of the New Wine family, Ben and Ellie are committed to building a local church that serves its local community. They are infectious in their love for Jesus, and they’ve got big hearts for helping people from every background discover God’s love for themselves.”