Calling All Miners To Bear Witness

 Revd Eileen Harrop outside St Anne's Church in Bishop Auckland Market Place

Picture By: Keith Blundy
Revd Eileen Harrop outside St Anne’s Church in Bishop Auckland Market Place

A Priest at St Anne’s Church, Bishop Auckland in The Diocese of Durham has launched an entrepreneurial quest to reach out to all of the region’s miners and bear witness to their life & times, community and voice in a project designed to capture the spirit of the region’s mining heritage before it is lost in the mists of time.

The Revd Eileen Harrop, who was appointed back in June 2016 as an ‘Entrepreneur Priest’ is based part-time at St Anne’s Bishop Auckland in the centre of the town that is undergoing radical changes and regeneration with the developments at Auckland Castle Trust, Eleven Arches Trust (‘Kynren’), through the work being driven by Jonathan Ruffer and the support of Bishop Auckland Town Council and Durham County Council.

Eileen said: “An entrepreneurial priest doesn’t have a defined scope, it’s not parochial in the sense of a normal church clergy role and it’s not necessarily geographical either – but you have to start somewhere. This role is on the back of the transformation that we anticipate coming from the magnificent work going on around the town.

“So I am here to listen and watch and so see how as a Church we come alongside that change. As an example, there is going to be a mining arts gallery that will be opening as well as a wide range of other initiatives including the arts, culture, heritage and Christian witness. I listened to this and wanted to build on it as a Church and celebrate the mining heritage; the lives of the mining communities; the people who have dedicated and sacrificed themselves, and belonged to the mining industry. As a response we are going to put on events that are going to celebrate, heal and facilitate; we are going to engage with schools; people in the community and businesses patiently waiting whilst the transformation happens here; and of course all of the tourists and others that will come to the area.

“So I am asking for people to come forward and bear witness to the voice, culture and heritage of the mining communities. We are going to capture it in words and pictures, conversation, crafts and many others ways. We will then present it as a lasting and proud legacy of the region and of the spirit that is championing the regeneration.”

As Chair of the Bishop Auckland Regeneration Partnership and Diocesan Bishop, The Rt Revd Paul Butler said: “This is a great example of how we can build together on our heritage to create a fresh future for the whole town and region. It shows too how the Church seeks to work for the blessing of the whole community.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the project and adding their voice and collective memory to it is invited to contact Eileen via email on: ekgharrop@gmail.com or (01325) 733154.

Notes:

  • As well as being Entrepreneur Priest in Bishop Auckland, she is also Priest in Charge for half her time at Gainford and Winston in Teesdale.
  • Engaged in the developments in and around Bishop Auckland is part of the Diocese’s core mission of ‘Blessing Our Communities in Jesus’ name’ for the transformation of us all. Full details of the Diocese and its priorities can be found at http://www.durhamdiocese.org
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