"Answers worth hearing flow from lives that are worth questioning." -Dean Flemming
Half my time is spent doing ministry in Newcastle and Gateshead, in partnership with a number of churches and Christian organisations.
Gateshead Central Baptist Church
Gateshead Central Baptist Church has been around for 142 years, first as Gateshead Baptist Church, then as Durham Road Baptist Church and now as Gateshead Central Baptist Church. It has a rich and interesting history: having been planted out of the baptist church in Newcastle in 1877 it grew to be the beacon of evangelical truth in the North East.
From the 1960s and 70s onwards it experienced significant decline. The building of the motorway cut the church off and many people were relocated when their homes were demolished. The church dwindled to about 20 people, although it is still connected to an enormous social network in Gateshead with many people having been married, baptised and taught Sunday school at the church.
Duncan arrived as the new minister in summer 2016 and was joined by Associate Minister Abby Bick in 2019. Over the last few years God has graciously brought people of all different backgrounds. There are now about 50 people on Sunday morning from pool of about 80 and the diverse congregation is made up of retired Geordies, African families, people in their 20s and 30s from the Middle East, some students and graduates and a handful of others.
The church is in one of the poorest areas in the North East and there are challenging issues of health, poverty and social deprivation. There are currently a number of refugees who are destitute as they have no leave to remain and no support. There are challenges, but also wonderful opportunities to make God's love known in a practical way and to be a blessing to the wider community.
I used to work full-time with the Agapé team in Newcastle and I'm still involved in the ministry. I'm part of the team that runs Food For Thought - a community discussion group where people from all faith backgrounds and nationalities share food and friendship and talk about the big things in life.
I also get involved in some campus ministry, meeting Christians and non-Christians for discipleship and evangelism. It's great to still be part of the Agapé team, especially as I get to join in with the weekly ukulele worship sessions!
Newcastle Community Grocery
Newcastle Community Grocery is based at Kingdom Life Church just down the road from me and exists to serve the local community to combat food poverty and reduce food waste. It's a partnership between the church and The Message Trust, based in Manchester (right near where I grew up!).
I love the opportunity to get to know customers and to share Jesus with them as well as serve them in the shop. As well as the grocery, there are free courses that customers can get involved with including the CAP money course, mental health sessions and courses to explore Christianity.