The Dioceses of Newcastle and Durham are to merge their communications teams to give the Church of England a stronger voice in the North East of England.
By bringing the teams together, a larger better equipped team can be formed to help ensure the Church of England continues to promote its mission and relevance in modern day life. A key part of the team’s work will be to support the strategic aims of Newcastle and Durham to grow our worshipping communities.
The team, which will be made up of two full-time and three part-time staff, will provide internal and external communications support to both Dioceses with greater focus on digital media. Because the teams are being merged, there is no greater financial cost to either Diocese.
Roderick Stuart, currently Head of Communications at Newcastle Diocese, will become the new Director of Communications. Roderick will be supported by Beth Hemming, Newcastle’s Communications Officer who becomes the team’s new Senior Communications Officer. Two part-time Communications Officers and a full-time Digital Media Officer will be recruited over the next few months.
Keith Blundy, who has been an advisor on communications to Durham Diocese and its Bishops since 2010, has decided he wishes to move towards semi-retirement and will gradually step down from his role over the next few months. Keith will help support the new team during the transition period.
The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Christine Hardman said: “This is the perfect time for us to merge our communications teams to create one larger team better equipped to serve the needs of both Dioceses, both in promoting the work of the Church of England in sustaining a Christian presence in every community and in helping us achieve the next steps in growing church and bringing hope.”
The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler said: “Communities across Durham and Newcastle Dioceses have so much in common and it makes perfect sense to have one, larger communications team to help us promote the life of the Church in the North East. As we in Durham look to the next five years and our commitment to transform communities, churches and lives, this team will help us focus on our priorities of growing church communities, prioritising the needs of young people, tackling poverty and caring for our creation.
“I wish to thank Keith for everything he has done for us over the last decade to help us achieve our communications goals and I pray for him and his wife Pauline as they move into the next stage of their lives. I very much look forward to working with our new strengthened communications team in the years ahead.”
Keith Blundy will continue to handle communications issues in Durham until the new joint team takes over in the summer.