This Blog's web address is the same as it was, but I've just changed the title. It doesn't really require the question mark, because my parishes are indeed on the North-West edge of both the Diocese and the County of Durham. But I've put it in for the moment lest people object to any perceived overtones of lawlessness and rebellion - as if!
The main reasons for change were these:
1. Just the name of my parish standing alone as a blog title is a bit boring!
2. In the last few months I've acquired another parish - so in addition to St. Cuthbert's, Benfieldside (which is in Shotley Bridge, but also serves Blackhill and Bridgehill), I now serve also as Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Castleside - this has the merit of being in Castleside itself, though it serves a wide area including Moorside, The Grove and the smaller rural communities of Rowley and Healeyfield.
I still live in Shotley Bridge - which for Castleside is a bit problematic, because it's 3 or 4 miles (depends on which way you travel) from the Vicarage, and the more recently-arrived town of Consett has grown up in between. Between the two parishes there's a choice of routes. The most attractive and shortest is along the valley and then a steep haul uphill, but it's also most likely to be snowed-under, iced-up or flooded. The easiest is also the longest via Consett and its by-pass; this requires gaining even greater altitude before losing it. In between I can cut through the estates of The Grove and Moorside, but this route is blessed with more speed-bumps than my car's suspension can really stand.
Still, I like it that both my parishes are on the edge. Admittedly we sometimes feel a bit forgotten by the centre. But we possess riches and beauty which the centre itself may simply not appreciate. And "edginess" is not a bad thing if it challenges complacency.
My main problem at present is simply workload: how to avoid doing everything twice, as well as dealing with parishes which have a population of about 15,000. Hence the lack of blogging. And sometimes it feels there's not much time to think... That's one of the reasons why I haven't included a customary "Vicar's letter" in the new February edition of our Parish Magazine - but I have printed our Bishop's New Year message, and there's a lot more, so please have a look anyway!
You can find an archive of the Magazine by going to the dedicated page on this blog - and you'll find a selection of sermons there too...
On the whole this is still very much about St. Cuthbert's. But service details for St. John's are now in the bar on the right of this blog page, as well as a link to its website. Hopefully more to follow.