One race, 57,000 stories, two Bishops!

20/09/2017

Bishop Christine and Bishop Mark were among the 57,000 runners on Sunday, 10 September to take on the challenge of the 36th Great North Run. As VIP runners they lined up at the start with celebrities such as TV presenter Davina McCall, not far from the elite athletes, including Mo Farah (see inset).

Perhaps running with celebrities isn’t the most important thing – but it’s heartening to think that being a bishop is also recognised by the secular world as a prominent role for society at large, not just for the church. This, in fact, is the message both Bishop Christine and Bishop Mark are keen to get across. They both believe Christians are called to be fully engaged with every element of society, not just what goes on inside the four walls of a church. Bishop Mark said, ‘Being a bishop in the north-east, it would simply be wrong not to do the Great North Run. I’m so looking forward to being part of this great community event.’

We caught up with the bishops before the race started to ask them how they were feeling. Bishop Christine said: ‘It’s an incredible atmosphere here; you can’t not be affected by it – you see so many people running for so many reasons. I have to confess I’m a little apprehensive, but we’re here now and I’m going to give it a good go.’ Bishop Mark added: ‘I’m delighted with the way the fundraising has gone so far, and am very thankful for every donation received. As for the race, I’ll be happy if I can finish under two hours, though I should be able to manage one hour 45 minutes!’

An important aspect of the Great North Run is the opportunity to raise money for a worthwhile cause. Both the bishops chose a charity to support through their (half) marathon efforts: Bishop Christine has been raising money for the West End Refugee Service (WERS) Hardship Fund, while Bishop Mark is supporting youth work carried out by Mission Initiative Newcastle East (MINE) in Byker. At the time of writing, over £800 has been raised for MINE, while donations for WERS have exceeded £4,000.

Lindsay Cross, Project Director of WERS, had this to say in response to the amount raised so far: ‘'WERS has the greatest respect for anyone who can run 13½ miles! Bishop Christine has raised a staggering amount of money and given hope to the many asylum seekers and refugees who come to WERS for support.  A huge thank you to Bishop Christine and all those who have so generously supported her run!'

Donations in aid of WERS can be made via a JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/BishopChristineGNR, or by texting ‘BGNR95 £2’ to 70070. Donations to MINE can be made via a JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mine-bishopofberwick. We will be keeping both pages open for a while yet, so there’s still plenty of time to donate if you wish to.

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