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Introducing our new Lay Ministers and Chaplains!

Saturday 11th September will see the return of the annual Lay Ministry Service of Celebration in Durham Cathedral.

In this service, which will be taken by the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, we celebrate new members of our community who will take extra responsibility in ensuring the wellbeing of their parishes in a number of different ways. These local, ordinary people have answered a bigger calling and decided to take another step in their Christian journey. 

There are three roles in which people will be celebrated; Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers), Lay Pastoral Ministers and Lay Chaplains.

The new Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers) include Carol Lines, Haydn Beckwith and Julie Goodhart.

The new Lay Pastoral Ministers include Alison Marshall, Bev McLean, Rowena Ashworth and Allison Young.

The new Lay Chaplains include Gemma Fisher, Catherine Simpson, Amy Gooding and Ben Ward.

The service will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook, due to the restrictions of COVID-19. A link to the YouTube stream is available below.


For those wanting to follow the service from home, you can download the Order of service here: Licensed Lay Ministers Service – 11-09-21

Keep reading to learn more about some of our new Lay Ministers!


Carol Lines has believed in God since she was very young, having being brought up in a Roman Catholic family and attending church in Seaham Harbour. She became a disciple of Christ at 18 while serving in the Royal Navy, and has been involved in a variety of church denominations throughout the years.

Carol has worked since she was 16, usually for local government, and she is an identical twin! She also has two other sisters. “We are a close family and relish occasions like this licensing service, because we can meet up after living in different parts of the country.” Her son Andrew lives locally and she’s a “very proud mam and nanna” to him and his wife, Carriann, and her four grandchildren; Bobbieleigh, Annabeth, Abbie and Jack.

She settled in the Church of England around ten years ago, has since been confirmed and has been involved in mission and children’s work with her local church. “I was delighted to be put forward, and accepted, for Reader training with the diocese. I have enjoyed the last three years studying part time with Lindisfarne College of Theology, and am looking forward to my licensing in the Cathedral on September 11th. 

Carol is nearing retirement age and has been employed recently by the Parish of Seaham and Dawdon to help with their ‘Community of Hope’ project Safe Harbour Seaham. “My hope is that this employment, and being a reader, will be a nice change of place for me and the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to be working in a church and in the community. I can’t wait to see the Kingdom of God grow in my beloved pit villages and towns, places that I have lived in and prayed in for most of my life.”

Haydn Beckwith, apart from his 22 years in the Royal Navy, has lived all his life in Billingham. He got re-involved in the church after his dad died in 1993, with the officiant at his dad’s funeral scratching an itch and leaving him wanting to find more. The following Sunday he was in church, and his journey restarted. “I never lost my belief. It was always there on a back burner somewhere.”

He has previously served as a churchwarden, but felt a strong calling to do something more in the church. Licensed Lay Ministry seems to be the answer to this calling.

Haydn will also be engaging in a pilgrimage from his church in Billingham to Durham Cathedral in the build up to the service.

“The inspiration was the year of pilgrimage that was somewhat curtailed due to the pandemic.  There is also a thought that when ordinands are ordained, they go on a retreat to contemplate and pray over their vocation, and I thought that this would be an opportunity for me to do something similar. 

“Living in Billingham, there is a feeling at times that we are sometimes forgotten about, and I see this as a chance of raising the profile of the parish.  I had hoped to entice a few more people to accompany me for some or all of the walk, but at the moment, the Revd Richard Radley is the only one who has said that he will attempt some of the walk with me.  My son is also going to do the walk with me.  We have done several long-distance trails over the years, and he was quite keen to do this (he is also putting me up in his house on Friday evening on the outskirts of Durham).  I have also been tasked to do some work on the environment and the last time I spent any time in Durham was as a youngster when there was a lot of spoil left from the coal industry.  I see the walk as a means of getting back to nature and seeing God’s creation at work in the recovery of some of the sites around old colliery waste.”


Alison Marshall has been married to Scott for 26 years and has three boys (two still live at home and our eldest lives with his partner). She has a three year old grandson and five month old twin grandchildren.

Growing up Alison’s parents encouraged her to attend church, but she found it a bit sporadic. “I remember feeling a connection but not really knowing what I wanted. Over the years my attendance varied but I always felt a connection with God.”

When she left school she trained to be a nurse, spending the majority of her working life  as a district nurse then in a hospice just before retiring. “Caring for others has always been important to me, not only in my professional life but also in my personal life, looking after and caring for family members.”

Following the death of her mum 15 years ago, Alison felt a real pull to be more connected with the church. “I got great comfort at her funeral and I had a strong desire to explore my Christian faith more. I became a regular attender at All Saints in Blackwell (Darlington) and I feel like part of a wonderful church family.”

Alison retired from nursing last year, but still felt the desire to help those in need. “I have a good insight into how many people struggle with social isolation and anxiety, particularly after times of distress such as bereavement. I had a calling to do more. I’m very much a practical person and wanted to help other members of the parish. Following some discussion with Jen (our vicar) the role of pastoral lay ministry was suggested and I strongly believe that this is my calling. 

“I hope I can make a difference to others.”

Bev McLean has always lived and worked in Sunderland. She’s married to Edward and has a step-son named Callum. 

Having spent 30+ years working as a Health Care Assistant in Sunderland Hospitals, Bev returned to church around five years ago after not attending since her teenage years. Three years ago she became Church Warden of St Cuthbert’s in Sunderland. 

“I have felt my faith become stronger and my desire to learn more about myself and what I am being called to do grow immensely. 

“The Lay Pastoral Ministry course has given me the opportunity to explore this and the confidence to follow where God is leading me.”

Allison Young

Born and raised in Sunderland, Allison Young studied at three of the region’s universities before working at two in a variety of leadership and managerial roles. Following the death of her father, she struggled to balance work with taking care of her mother, and took early retirement to focus on the care of my mother as she entered the final stages of dementia.

“During this period the support of our family church was vital and I started to help out with various church activities whenever I could and made the decision to be confirmed in 2016. This was a major step in my journey of faith, a public affirmation that I intended to live my life according to my faith and demonstrate my faith by my words and actions.”

Following the death of her mother in March 2020, there followed a period of deep reflection out of which grew a certainty that Allison wanted to contribute to the work of the church in a more committed and structured way. “The role of Lay Pastoral Minister seemed the right avenue and so I commenced the course in November 2020. The restrictions cast by the shadow of COVID presented many challenges, but our cohort coped with good humour and a mixture of zoom and “mask-to-mask” sessions and our tutors were fantastic.  It has been a wonderful learning experience and a privilege to share profound life and faith experiences with a diverse group of colleagues.  As we embark on our different journeys, our faith, belief and commitment to Christian care bind us together.”


Catherine Simpson lives in Bishop Auckland with her husband Mike, two children Hope and Jacob, and Alfie the dog!

Catherine came to faith as a teenager after visiting a church and becoming involved in the youth group.  “Not quite my original life goal…at 19 I felt God calling me to go to Bible College and I spent three years at Mattersey Hall. This was really just the start of God’s plan that proves he really does call the unlikely!”

Catherine has spent her working years supporting families, children and young people in a variety of jobs both within church contexts and through youth, community and school settings. She’s passionate about lay ministry.

Most recently she had spent eight years at St Anne’s CE Primary School in Bishop Auckland, employed as their school Chaplain, and left this post in December 2020 to take up her new role with the Diocese as part of the Mission, Discipleship & Ministry Team. “My role is to work alongside others to develop school chaplaincy and support Growing Faith, encouraging schools and churches to work more closely together.”

Catherine is beginning further study following her completion of the Lay Chaplain’s course with Lindisfarne and will begin an MA in October in Mission and Ministry, specialising in chaplaincy with children and young people, with Centre for Youth Ministry and Newman University.

Here are some photos taken at the service on Saturday 11th 2021:

First published on: 10th September 2021
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