Darlington Ordinariate Group: Bishop is to take final service

28 11 2011

From the Northern Echo:

The new Bishop of Durham will preach at a church’s final service before the congregation joins a new branch of the Catholic Church.

Worshippers at St James the Great Church, in Darlington, will hold their final mass at their church, in Albert Hill, in February, before the majority move to St Anne’s RC Church, pictured left, on Ash Wednesday.

The 61-strong group will take Catholic instructions during Lent before being received into full communion and the Ordinariate Church on April 4 – the Wednesday of Holy Week. The Ordinariate is a new branch of the Catholic Church set up for Anglicans wishing to leave the Church of England in protest at the decision to ordain women as bishops. The Darlington group is believed to be one of the largest such groups.

The congregation decided earlier in the year to join the Ordinariate. They were unsure whether they would be able to stay at St James, which has been Anglo-Catholic for more than a century. They found a new church, which they will share with the current congregation at St Anne’s, in nearby Haughton, although services will not clash, but have yet to find a new home for priest Father Ian Grieves.

The Right Reverend Justin Welby, the new Bishop of Durham, said a priest would be found for St James, adding: “There’s still a parish that needs a parish priest, and the new incumbent will be part of the tradition of the area which is quite a high church.

“I have known Ian Grieves for a long time. When I was training, in 1992, I did a placement with him at St James and I learnt a huge amount from him. He’s a very good priest and he’s clearly going to be a loss to the diocese and we are sad about that.

“You would be a fool to deny that there are deep divisions in the Church of England over a number of issues and this is one of them.

“This is the path that he and a number of the congregation have chosen. We have friendly relations with him and he’s very kindly invited me to preach on the last Sunday before they leave. I think the tone of that will be to wish them every blessing in their continued walk with Jesus Christ.”

Fr Grieves has spent 22 years with St James. He increased the number of followers from 18 and helped to raise hundreds and thousands of pounds for improvements.

He said it was with great sadness and a heavy heart they were leaving St James, but added it had been a great privilege to serve the congregation, with whom he had shared much and achieved great things.