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Whilst, as ever, we define "church" as our people and fellowship, some of us have had to be building-focussed over the past couple of years, due to serious issues with the church steeple and roof.
These are now restored to a safe condition, thanks to a wide-ranging fund-raising campaign and this has enabled us to return to the iconic Northgate building to continue our worship and outreach.
Our worship and fellowship had continued during the works (which largely coincided with the Covid pandemic) using the hall of Elm Ridge Methodist church as our physical base. The kind offer by our Methodist friends enabled a fairly seamless transition and made new friendships over our shared post-service coffees.
Some of our virtual facilities, developed during the lockdowns, have been seen to be appropriate in normal times and are continuing.
Data Privacy Laws were changed in 2018 to more fully recognise the impact of online personal data sharing and related issues.
Data Privacy, incorporating all aspects (not just online) of personal data held by a body about its members and others is now regulated by the General Data Protection Regulations - GDPR - and has wide-reaching implications for the way the church regulates the data it needs to hold on members and others in order to operate effectively.
What was once seen as 'obvious' and 'normal' is now regulated to ensure both the security of the personal data whilst it is held and e.g. the rights of the 'data subject' (i.e. the church member etc.) to require the church to restrict its use or to cease to hold it at all.
The full data protection package may seem an overkill in the church context but it is the case that as churches tend to operate by seeking to create a network of contacts - members, adherents, social contacts and so on- so there is a danger that personal information can easily spread more widely than intended by the subject of the information.
Our full policy may be downloaded here:
Safeguarding is taken seriously by Northgate United Reformed Church.
We acknowledge both adults and children’s right to protection from abuse regardless
of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or beliefs. We consider that, in accordance
with legislation, the welfare of children is paramount. We will follow legislation,
statutory guidance and recognised good practice.
We seek to establish a caring environment in which there is an informed vigilance
about the dangers of abuse.
The church Safeguarding policy may be downloaded here:
Our Pastorate Ministers from 2013, Revs Hilary and Stephen Collinson, retired near the beginning of the pandemic, so we are now in vacancy.
We have a strong team of our own local preachers and of visiting preachers, who will be leading services, whether remotely or in person, during the vacancy.
Secretarial duties are carried out by a team of two Elders - the named Secretary is Miss Dorothy Thomson and she is supported by Mrs Maranny Jones, the past Church Secretary, as Admin. Secretary.
The role of named Secretary has assumed more duties in recent years and so Dorothy's admnistrative dutied are shared with Maranny.
The two worked together during Maranny's years as Secretary, so they have an understanding as to their respectives responsibilities.
Following the retiremet of our Treasurer of 22 years, a new Treasurer, Mr Peter Thomson, was been appointed from within our congregation. Peter is an accountancy professional.
Our present style of worship is consistent with the age profile of our membership – from toddlers to centenarians and with the combined reformed tradition of our Congregational and Presbyterian forbears.
Darlington (Northgate) URC is a member of the Tees and Swale Mission Partnership, along with Keld, Low Row and Northallerton churches.
Several years ago, the Mission Partnership decided to function as a Joint Pastorate - that is the two ministers with which the Mission Partnership is scoped will be functioning without a "mother church" but using their time and talents to best serve the whole Joint Pastorate.
The four churches all have worship teams of varying size, with Northallerton, having been in vacancy for some time before the appointment of our new Pastorate ministers, probably being the strongest in this regard.
The Darlington congregation has a number of lay preachers (one being TLS-trained). Several Elders are accredited to preside at Communion within the Mission Partnership.
Lay pulpit supply by Darlington members has been offered for several years, particularly to the Keld and Low Row churches.
The leaders of the Mission Partnership (that is, all the elders and minsters who are able to attend) meet quarterly to address issues of common concern, including joint events.
After 10 weeks of refurbishments, we are now back in the Sanctuary, which is now more flexible, warmer and generally more welcoming.
The layout pictured above is not too different from the original "2 aisles plus pews" layout but we now have the capability of re-arranging seating any way we wish and still maintaining the use of the screens at almost any point in the space. Formerly they were fixed to the walls but now are mounted on trolleys which may be used all around the space, as needs dictate, thanks to distributed power and video outlets in the floor.
We have also modernised the vestibule area between the main entrance and the glazed doors at the back of the Sanctuary by flattening the floor and installing a servery. This gives us the facility to use this space as a gathering space after services and for meetings and is a much more welcoming area than formerly.
Our main doors have been altered to have glazed panels incorporating the Church logo, which allows the passing public to see through to the Sanctuary.
Of course, this also enables those inside to see out!
Connecting with the community is a two-way thing.