The Christian faith has existed for 2,000 years, since the time that Jesus lived on earth, and to this day the faith is shared by countless millions throughout the world.
Here in Newcastle and Northumberland we follow in the footsteps of some of the great Christian pilgrims who were among the very first on these shores to share the "Good News” of Jesus.
Our region may have changed since then, but our aim remains the same, to continue the work those first pilgrims began and nurture the Christian faith through a wide range of ministries in our parishes and churches as well as in the wider community.
Cradle of Christianity
Northumberland can justly claim the title of "Cradle of Christianity", but before the Christian missionaries arrived, the kingdom was largely inhabited by people who lived by a very different code. Some converted, however, among them King Oswald who sent for a man called Aidan, who lived in a Christian settlement on the island of Iona.
St. Aidan settled at Lindisfarne, an island now known throughout the Christian world as Holy Island. It is recorded that the man from Iona had difficulty understanding the Northumbrian speech and had to rely on an interpreter. (No change there!) But undeterred, St Aidan and his followers laid the foundations of the Priory Church on Holy Island, the magnificent ruins of which still offer a special atmosphere of sanctity to the pilgrim today. The parish church of St. Mary on the island dates partly from the 12th Century.
Hero and Saint
King Oswald, meantime, achieved a great victory at the Battle of Heavenfield, near Wall, in Northumberland, in 633, over the forces of the Welsh King Cadwalla, and a wooden cross at the top of Brunton Bank on the Military Road marks the spot where it is said that the Christian King prayed before the battle. Today the tiny church of Heavenfied is named after him. Oswald died in 642 in a battle against Penda of Mercia, near Oswestry. He was a hero as well as a saint, and his veneration spread to many parts of Europe.
After the death of Aidan in 651, many followed in this footsteps, including the shepherd boy Cuthbert. Watching the sheep on Dod Law, a hill in Glendale which overlooks the little town of Wooler, the boy had a vision in which he saw angels bearing St. Aidan to heaven in their arms.
Cuthbert decided that he would devote his life to the preaching of the Gospel, studying for a time at Melrose under St Eata. In 684, at the invitation of King Egbert, he became Bishop of Hexham. A short time later he exchanged this Bishopric for one at Lindisfarne, where he spent the rest of his comparatively short life, teaching, preaching and counselling, before dying on the Inner Farne (a nearby island) in 687.
St Cuthbert's beads
After a series of Viking raids, the monks at Lindisfarne took Cuthbert's coffin to safety, stopping at many churches from Northumberland to Yorkshire until a resting place was finally found for him at Durham. Today the finest Norman cathedral in Europe stands on the site. Many of the churches where the saint's body is said to have rested are dedicated to his memory, and his love of birds led to some Holy Island breeds becoming known as "Cuthbert's chicks". The tiny round pebbles found at Lindisfarne are known as St Cuthbert's beads.
Another famous missionary to northumberland was Paulinus, renowned for his "mass" baptisms. Tradition has it that thousands of people were received into the Church at Pallinsburn, on the Wooler road, at The Lady's or St. Ninian's Well at Holystone in Coquetdale. There are also reports of similar baptisms by Paulinus near the Roman Wall north of Haltwhistle.
Life in Northumberland has changed greatly since those days, but Christians here still revere the legacy of Aidan, Cuthbert and Paulinus, and seek to follow them in their devotion to the Christian way of life.
We also have a Faith and Life Course, click here for more information.
The Christian Faith - What does it mean to be a Christian?
Christians believe that it is possible to have a relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. We seek to deepen that relationship by following the teachings of Jesus, and to enjoy the encouragement with other Christians through the life of the Church.
For Christians God is understood and known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Father – God, the Creator, who is love, caring for creation and for every human being as his beloved child.
Son - God chose to show us himself in the historical person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection holds the key to knowing and loving God, and to making sense of life, before and after death.
Holy Spirit - God is alive, loving and active today, inspiring faith, justice and truth, sustaining the life of the world, giving spiritual gifts to the church and bearing his spiritual fruit in the world - changed lives and a transformed society.
Find Out More
To find out more about Jesus online, why not visit www.rejesus.co.uk or www.christianity.org.uk? There also some stories about faith on the Church of England website www.cofe.anglican.org
But because Christianity is about relationship and community, the best way to find out about faith and prayer, to raise questions and to get help, is to meet some Christians. The Church of England is just one of the Christian churches in this country. We seek to work alongside other Christian churches and denominations as closely as we can. Why not visit your local Anglican church?
For details of your parish, visit A Church Near You.
There is also a special course called Faith & Life run by Lindisfarne Regional Training Partnership. Click here for more details or contact Jenny Burton, Lindisfarne RTP Administrator by email email@example.com or on 0191 270 4144 for more information.
Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals
The Church of England helps to celebrate and commemorate many of the milestones on the journey through life; these include weddings, funerals, baptism and confirmation services.
For more information see weddings, funerals, baptism and confirmation.
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