The Winchester Link started in 1988 as a result of the "Faith in the City" report when Bishop John V Taylor challenged the Diocese of Winchester to raise an equivalent amount to its parish share for a needy diocese.
Newcastle was one of the beneficiaries of this very generous gesture, and over 20 years almost £1m was donated to parishes in the Newcastle Diocese, the bulk of the money being spent on providing church facilities, paying stipends and supporting various projects. The money was a huge blessing to the mission of the church in the Newcastle Diocese.
As the financial situation changed, the link ceased to be mainly monetary and in more recent times has concentrated on human resources and parish links. However, Winchester still provides funding for two posts in the diocese, supporting pioneering work we could not otherwise afford.
Parish Links: Throughout the project, individual parishes have made links with churches in Winchester, the staple of these relationships being the sharing of information and occasional visits backed up with mutual prayer.
Clergy Exchanges: Some money is put aside to enable a curate to spend up to a week in a parish in the other diocese, allowing those selected to experience ministry in a very different context . Every few years there is an exchange of laypeople and clergy who meet and share ideas and visit projects in the other diocese. A party from Newcastle will be visiting Winchester in June 2009 to look at tourism, ministry with clubbers, and work with asylum seekers. amongst other topics.
Northern Spirituality : A conference on Northern Spirituality was held in 2007 at Shepherds Dene, a welcome chance to share the good gifts we have here, not just the spirituality of Aidan and Cuthbert, but also the experience of Byker and Walker, and to experience the Angel of the North.
Our shared Saint : Josephine Butler was born near Corbridge and is buried in Kirknewton. During her marriage to the Revd George Butler, she spent some years in the Close of Winchester Cathedral. Remembered on May 30 in the Anglican Calendar, Josephine Butler is celebrated for her campaign against sexual exploitation in Victorian times. Her work continues today in the opposition to the sex trade which is the subject of a joint Diocesan Synod motion - the first ever such motion - presented to General Synod for debate by Canon Michael Webb in the February synod, 2009. A book of essays on Jospehine Butler’s life and theology has been jointly published by the two dioceses. The book is called called "Beating the Traffic", available from Church House at the special price of £5 plus p and p.
Holidays in Bournemouth: Through the generosity of a Bournemouth parish, a sum of money is set aside for giving a week's holiday to a needy family or individual. The holiday is taken in Bournemouth and it has brought real pleasure to two families in the past two years. Names and details of possible recipients should be sent, in confidence, to the Chair of the Link by Easter for consideration.
The chair of the Winchester end of the link is the Ven Adrian Harbidge.
The Newcastle Link Task Group welcomes new members and currently consists of
Canon Helen Brunton (Secretary)
Canon Bob Burston
Captain Steve Dixon
Mrs Jacqueline Rainford
Canon Ron Black
Canon Robert Gage (Chair)
The Task Group usually meets about four times a year.
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