Parish of St John The Divine Acklington

   Statement prepared by the P.C.C. describing the Church’s ministry and mission within the parish


1. Introduction

Although part of the Warkworth with Acklington Benefice, the church of St John The Divine Acklington has very much its own identity and proudly serves the Acklington Parish. The church has its own wardens and PCC and enjoys a growing and healthy congregation (in relation to the parish population) with attendances of between 30-40 every Sunday morning.  

Churchwardens - Peter Wright and Bill Rowntree
2. Description of the parish and boundary map

Acklington Parish covers a rural area of Northumberland, situated east of the AI trunk road and west of Amble by the sea.

The parish includes two rural villages (Acklington and Guyzance) and a number of farms and scattered houses.

Acklington is a very vibrant and friendly village. Many claim it is possibly the friendliest village in Northumberland. The following link will take you to a short ‘Welcome to Acklington’ video which was produced by our community team:

The hub of the community is undoubtedly Acklington village hall where meetings are held and recreational activities take place. Acklington has a Parish Council, a Community Team (ACT), a Carpet Bowls Club, a Women’s Institute, a Young People’s Sports Club, an Art Group and a Dance Group which all use the hall regularly. The school and the church also hold numerous social and fund-raising events in the village hall.
Acklington amenities (other than the village hall and the parish church) include a village school, a public house, a railway station and an agricultural mart. Situated on the eastern edge of the village is a sizeable estate of houses where the majority of parishioners live.

A mile to the south of the village (and on the edge of the parish) is HMP Northumberland.

In 2007 judges voted Acklington the best village in Northumberland. They stated that “despite its small size it has a fantastic community spirit and a real sense of things happening”. Such was the vibrancy of the village that Acklington also went on to become a finalist in the national “Calor Village of the Year” competition in 2008.

Guyzance Village is a small hamlet situated in the north of the parish in a designated conservation area. The village consists of a small number of cottages and also Guyzance Hall which is a popular venue for weddings and other events.

The parish consists of a mixture of people who are involved in country and country-town employment (including professional, commercial, building construction and agriculture). There are over forty businesses in the parish, including many small ‘home-based’ businesses, but also many of our parishioners are retired.
3. The Church Community

The congregation has increased steadily over the last five years and the Sunday morning congregation usually consists of 30-40 regular worshippers. Six or seven members attend from outside the parish. The majority of these regular worshippers are in their “senior years” and the lack of young families and children attending church is a concern.

A few years ago the church held a weekly Sunday School but sadly the numbers dwindled and (although the ‘Sunday School corner’ is still in church) the activities ceased. However, numbers of children attending special services such as the Christmas Eve Christingle Service is very encouraging – so hopefully the Sunday School closure is only a temporary measure and the situation can be viewed as an exciting opportunity for future development.
4. Statistics

Parish Population : 492 adults / 59 children                       551
Electoral Roll :                                                                       64
Average Sunday Communicants :                                         34
Average Baptisms per annum :                                              3
Average Confirmations per annum :                                       2
Average Weddings per annum :                                             2
Average funerals per annum :                                                6
Average house communions for the sick or housebound :     3

5. Church Buildings

The church of St John The Divine is the only licensed place of worship in the parish.
The church was built in 1861 and is in relatively good condition. There is, however, no toilet or kitchen facility within the church building and this is a real drawback and concern for many members. The lack of these facilities means that certain activities are restricted and this is a problem that members would dearly like to see rectified.

There is no church hall or other ancillary buildings.

There is a large churchyard (including an extension) to maintain and the PCC is responsible for its maintenance. Acklington Parish Council usually makes an annual donation of £250 towards the maintenance of the churchyard. The PCC ensures that the churchyard is kept in immaculate condition.


6. Patterns of Worship

Sunday Services:
10.45 a.m. Parish Communion

Weekday Services:
9.30 a.m. Wednesday Morning Prayers

We are, by inclination, neither “high church” nor “low church”, we regard ourselves as Anglicans with a traditional but flexible and informal approach to worship. All denominations (and those of no particular faith) are always very welcome to join in with our services and celebrations.
7. Church Activities

Regular Church Worship, plus House Groups held for Bible Study - mainly during Advent and Lent.

We currently have an Events Team which organises numerous fund-raising and social events during the year. These include concerts, fairs, coffee mornings, exhibitions, wine & cheese afternoons, sponsored events, etc.

Our latest activity was a very successful village scarecrow event which raised a profit of £729.70 for church funds.

We also have a regular “100 Club” for fund-raising purposes.
We support various home and overseas missions and in particular we annually give donations to The Church of England Children’s Society and Christian Aid Projects. In this small community we are able to be actively aware of people’s needs as they occur and be ready to respond accordingly.

We regularly support “The People’s Kitchen” a Newcastle based charity for the needy and homeless and often respond to other local needs as they arise.
8. Ministry

Authorised ministers & staff regularly involved in our services include:

Revd Christine Shield – Curate
Revd June Barras – retired ordained local minister with permission to officiate
Revd Margaret Hobrough – retired NSM with permission to officiate
Revd Ben Hopkinson – retired priest with permission to officiate
Mr Roger Styring - Reader

There is a high level of lay participation in most services. Five lay members administer the chalice; twelve lay members read lessons; ten lay members have been elected sides persons and lay members occasionally lead the intercessional prayers.

Several lay members are involved in administrative work. Such work includes editing the parish magazine, maintaining the church website and producing church rotas and minutes.

There is a good level of lay involvement in pastoral work across our parish. Some involvement is formal but much more is informal and areas such as baptism preparation, home communion and sick visiting are very well covered.

The PCC meets every second month to discuss church matters - including administrative work, pastoral work and ministry in general.

9. Finance

The church of St John The Divine Acklington has no debts and the parish share is paid regularly and in full. It could not be called a parish that practises stewardship although many members do gift aid their offerings and there is an envelope scheme for those who request it.

Expenses to the incumbent are paid in full and include travelling, telephone and postage (all expenses shared with Warkworth).

Our total annual income for the year ending 31st Dec 2016 was £21,059 and our annual expenditure was £18,868. A copy of accounts for the last financial year is attached.
10. Community Involvement

As Acklington parish is small and rural it is not surprising that our church members are heavily involved in all aspects of community life. There is a great deal of liaison and co-operation between the church and other parish groups and organisations.

The village school (built 1852) and the village church (built 1861) have always had very strong links. The school staff and pupils regularly hold special services in the church. Sadly the school is under threat of closure at the current time because of decreasing pupil numbers.

Church members have leading positions on the Village Hall Committee, the W.I. Committee, as well as in the Bowls Club and the Art Group. There are good links between the church and the Parish Council and our PCC lay vice chairman is also the co-ordinator of the highly acclaimed parish website.
11. Relationships with neighbouring parishes

There are obvious close links with the Parish Church of St Lawrence, Warkworth (as we share the incumbent). Our church is also part of the “Coquet Churches Together” group, although we are a relatively new member of this group and there are considerable opportunities for closer relationships to develop. Revd June Barras (pictured below with churchwarden Bill Rowntree) is our representative on the CCT group and she is particularly enthusiastic about encouraging closer relationships with other churches.

Members of our PCC are not aware of how these relationships fit in with any Deanery Plans, nor are members aware of the implications such plans may have for future ministerial deployment in our parish.
12. Ecumenical Relationships

Apart from the “Coquet Churches Together” group mentioned above, and the occasional shared services within the Alnwick Deanery, the ecumenical relationships in our area are quite limited and ripe for development.

13. The Parish and the future

Our current strengths:
• a lively, involved and enthusiastic congregation who carry their commitment into wider community
life, activities and contacts
• a hunger for fresh opportunities for theological and spiritual exploration
• a valued church school ministering to children and their families
• a strong development of lay and ordained ministries
• a valuing of each person’s gifts, with humour, diplomacy and good management
• a church building in good shape, with potential for further development and use

Our current needs:
• a deepening of our theological and spiritual understanding and expression
• a wider practical application of Gospel priorities for our mission and ministry
• an enthusiastic and effective leadership
• a continuation of support for, and involvement in, our church school
• a continued strong desire to work with the young and their families
• a continued development of active pastoral care
• a readiness to work even more collaboratively and share future decision making and ministry together
• a continued willingness to work more effectively with each other and with other local churches


14. The new incumbent

We are praying for a disciple of Jesus who endeavours to be:

• an understanding listener to hold the ‘old’ and develop the ‘new’
• an encourager to help people, attitudes and systems to change
• a communicator with highly developed interpersonal skills
• a team player who can discern, use and develop the many talents available
• a leader who can strengthen vision and focus people’s commitment
• a carer who is approachable and will model love in action to all
• a manager who can bring a true perspective to our complex common life
• a youthful and energetic priest with a clear plan for the future
• someone who can offer collaborative pastoral, spiritual and practical leadership concentrating on the needs of the
   parish as the priority.

What will we do for our new priest

For our part we will:
• Be welcoming, open-minded and collaborative
• Respond to compassionate, loving leadership with enthusiasm, unity and positivity.
• Support the development of a vision for our parish so that our mission can better reach out to our
• Always act in love – and make sure you have your day off!

15. Parsonage

There is no parsonage within Acklington Parish. Recent incumbents have lived in the vicarage at Warkworth and details of this dwelling will be listed on St Lawrence’s Parish Profile.