Darlington Methodist District
The Darlington District stretches from part way across North Yorkshire to the middle of County Durham, bounded to the east by the North Sea and reaching into the Pennines in the west.
It contains rural areas in the Dales and part of the North Yorkshire Moors, the ex-mining towns and villages of the former Durham Coalfield, and industrial areas especially but not exclusively around the River Tees. Within this area lie manufacturing and service industries, agriculture, education, tourism and unemployment and underemployment. The District contains both large areas of social housing and isolated farming communities with challenges of both obvious and hidden poverty.
Within the District lie six prisons (three clustered in the Durham area), the Universities of Teesside and Durham, various colleges of higher/further education and three Methodist primary schools. There are also several major hospitals. The Anglican training college, Cranmer Hall, is part of St John’s College, Durham, and with it is the Wesley Study Centre. This is a Research Centre for Methodist Studies providing cutting edge scholarship to refresh our church and ministry.
The District consists of 5150 members in 126 Churches within eleven Circuits, currently ministered to by 36 active presbyters, 3 deacons and 22 lay employees, full and part time. There is a minister stationed in the district who works across 3 circuits serving the Chinese congregations, one of which is in the Newcastle District. A number of other Chaplaincies (e.g. University, school and race course) are fulfilled as part of Circuit ministry. There are 8 ministers in roles other than Circuit ministry: in full time prison and hospital chaplaincies and fulfilling Connexional roles. There are approximately 167 active Local Preachers and 111 Worship Leaders. Across the District some Churches are engaged in differing forms of worship such as cafe Church and Messy Church.
A number of Associate and Authorised ministers of ecumenical partners lead worship in some of the circuits.
The District has a considerable Methodist heritage: it was regularly visited by John Wesley and in C19th was a strong area of Primitive Methodism. This heritage remains important in some communities, where Methodist Churches are favoured for rites of passage far beyond their membership.
The structure of the leadership and management teams in Darlington District are focussed on mission and supporting local churches and circuits in this and all aspects of their ministry. The district has a District Policy Committee with representatives from circuits and district teams and committees. The teams and committees in the District are grouped into 4 networks; Mission and Ministry, Learning and Development, Communications and Advocacy and Use of Resources. Each network has a co-ordinator who, along with the Chair, the two Deputy Chairs and the Synod Secretary, meet together as the District Vision and Strategy Team.