Northern Gospel, Northern Church: Reflections on Identity and Mission

by Gavin Wakefield and Nigel Rooms (editors), et al.

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Book Details

Rating: ★★★

Format: Paperback (238 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-910519-19-6

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“Enlightening, thought provoking and honest, a bit like the North itself” — Kate Bottley (the “Gogglebox Vicar”)

Foreword by John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

A must-have book for anyone seeking to understand the challenges of proclaiming the Gospel in the North of England.

From the monks of Lindisfarne to the Synod of Whitby, the North is historically considered to be a cradle of Christianity in England, but in today’s society is there a “gospel for the North”?

Does it make sense to talk of a gospel for a specific place when there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5)? Can we even consider the North of England as a distinct entity with its own particular identity?

This book brings together prominent practitioners and academics to answer these questions and explore what it means to proclaim the gospel in the North of England from many angles: housing estates to ancient cathedrals, Biblical reflection to street evangelism, history to economics.


The Gospel has the ability to address the local and the global. This book is a unique contribution by northern practitioners and thinkers to recognise the needs and opportunities of the North and the relevance of the good news.

— The Revd David Wilkinson
Principal of St John’s College, Durham University
and contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day

Being born and bred in the North I can testify to sometimes feeling culturally and theologically misunderstood by my Southern colleagues. There’s more to the North than mushy peas, gravy and flat caps; the Holy Spirit is alive and well and very much in action beyond Watford Gap. This work helps to address some of the specifics of what a Gospel in the North might look like, addressing key issues of identity without wandering into patronising stereotypes. Enlightening, thought provoking and honest, a bit like the North itself.

The Revd Kate Bottley (the “Gogglebox Vicar”)

My mother often reminded me of a great truism: “Its not what you say, its what people hear you saying.”

As a southern UK citizen living in London, I only need to travel north of Watford to know that I'm in a different cultural country. How people receive the good news is hugely significant, and this provocative book offers a new way of checking how its heard in the North.

Joel Edwards, Strategic Adviser, Christian Solidarity Worldwide


Steven Croft

Steven Croft was born and brought up in Halifax and has lived most of his life in the North of England working as a vicar in Ovenden in Halifax and Warden of Cranmer Hall in Durham. He became Bishop of Sheffield in 2009. He is the author of a number of books including Ministry in Three Dimensions (DLT, second edition 2008), Jesus People What the Church Should Do Next (CHP, 2009), and The Advent Calendar (DLT, 2006), a novel for adults and children. He is also a co-author of Pilgrim: A Course for the Christian Journey (CHP, 2013, 2014).

David Goodhew

David Goodhew is Director of Ministerial Practice at Cranmer Hall, a theological college which is part of St John’s College, Durham. He is also director of the Centre for Church Growth Research, a research centre based in Durham. David edited Church Growth in Britain, 1980 to the Present (Ashgate, 2012) and Towards a Theology of Church Growth (Ashgate, 2015). Prior to moving to Durham in 2008, David was vicar of two parishes in York.

Claire Dawson

Claire Dawson has been priest in charge of St John and St James Church Bootle in the Liverpool Diocese since 2010; she initially joined the parish in 2008 as Urban Missioner. Claire was ordained in 2004 in Southwell and Nottingham Diocese having previously worked as social worker in Nottinghamshire and Derby City, where she set up a project for young people who were being exploited through prostitution. Her ministerial training took place at the East Midlands Ministerial Training Course alongside her work with young people. Claire is currently studying for a Doctor of Professional Studies in Practical Theology at Chester University; she is researching issues relating to urban theology and mission.

James Newcome

Although he was born and brought up in the South of England, James has now worked in the North West for more than twenty years. After some time as Director of Ministry and Residentiary Canon in Chester Diocese he became Bishop of Penrith, and for the last six years has been Bishop of Carlisle. Carlisle Diocese has become the first “ecumenical county” where Anglicans are working closely with Methodists and the United Reformed Church in Mission Communities whose purpose is to “grow disciples of all ages.” James Newcome is married with four grown-up children, and is co-chairman of the Rose Castle Foundation.

Catherine Pickford

Despite being born in Oxford, Catherine Pickford considers herself a committed Northerner. A vicar’s daughter, Catherine spent the first part of her childhood in Wath Upon Dearne, a South Yorkshire mining town, during the miners’ strike. When she was nine the family moved to inner-city Sheffield, just as the Faith in the City report came out. Both Wath and Sheffield had a significant influence on Catherine’s faith and vocation. For the last eleven years, Catherine has served first as Team Vicar and then Team Rector in Benwell in inner-city Newcastle. She is now Vicar of Stannington and CMD officer in the Diocese of Newcastle.

Matthew Porter

Matthew Porter is Vicar of St Michael le Belfrey in York, a church with a vision to play their part in serving God’s transformation of the North. The Belfrey established St Cuthbert’s House of Prayer in 2014 as a prayer centre for York and the North. With strong northern roots, Matthew was brought up in Doncaster and has previously served in churches in Sheffield. He believes that nothing of lasting significance happens without prayer.

Mark Powley

Mark Powley is Principal of Yorkshire Ministry Course, which works with St Barnabas Theological Centre to train ordinands for the Church of England. He was born in Bury, Manchester, and has studied Theology at the University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, and Kings College London. He is the author of 4Life: God’s Values for Living (Cell UK, 2006) and Consumer Detox (Zondervan, 2010).

Su Reid

Su Reid grew up in Nottingham, where her father was an Anglican Lay Reader, and then read English at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford. She lectured at Aberdeen University for seven years before moving with her husband, a sociologist, to Teesside University where she eventually became Dean of the School of Arts and Media. Su spent some years worshipping as a Quaker, but returned to Anglicanism after women were ordained as priests, and trained as a Lay Reader. She is now Sub-Warden of Readers in Stokesley Deanery in the Diocese of York.

Nigel Rooms

Nigel Rooms is an Anglican priest, practical theologian, and missiologist. He oversees lay and clergy development as the Director of Ministry and Mission in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, and serves in a voluntary capacity in the Local Ecumenical Partnership of Bestwood Park with Rise Park in North Nottingham. He holds a Master’s degree in theology from Nottingham University and a professional doctorate in missiology from the University of Birmingham. He is the author of The Faith of the English (SPCK, 2011) which explores the relationship between Christian faith and English culture. Born, brought up, and educated initially all in Yorkshire, he has been interested in contextual theology throughout his ministry beginning in Stoke-on-Trent and continuing in Tanzania before moving to the liminal East Midlands.

Michael Sadgrove

Michael Sadgrove was Dean of Durham from 2003 to 2015. He was born in London and educated at Balliol College, Oxford. Ordained in 1975, he has been lecturer in Old Testament studies at Salisbury and Wells Theological College, Vicar of Alnwick, Northumberland, and Canon Precentor and Vice-Provost of Coventry Cathedral. In 1995 he became Provost, then Dean, of Sheffield. He has written on the Bible, Christian ministry, spirituality, and religious art and heritage. An edited collection of the sermons Michael preached during his time at Durham Cathedral has been published in Christ in a Choppie Box: Sermons from North East England (Sacristy Press, 2015).

Stephen Spencer

Stephen Spencer began researching William Temple’s life and thought for his doctoral studies at the University of Oxford. Since then he has combined parish ministry and teaching on theological courses with ongoing research and writing. He published William Temple: A Calling to Prophecy (SPCK, 2001). He has just published a set of extracts from Temple’s writings: Christ in All Things: William Temple and His Writings (Canterbury Press, 2015). He is currently Vice Principal of the Yorkshire Ministry Course based at Mirfield in West Yorkshire, and is engaged in research for a history of Anglican social theology from F. D. Maurice to Rowan Williams.

Mark Tanner

Mark Tanner is based in Durham where he serves as Warden of Cranmer Hall, training people for mission and ministry. Previously he has lead parishes in North and South Yorkshire, worked with the Army, with New Wine, and served as Area Dean of Ripon. He is passionate about people coming to a full and life-giving faith in Jesus, helping the Church to serve with loving confidence in the darkest of places, and seeing Christians set free to worship and witness to the “glorious liberty” that is ours in Christ.

John Thomson

John Thomson is the Bishop of Selby. Before this he was Director of Ministry in Sheffield Diocese, a vicar in Doncaster, a theological educator in South Africa, and a youth chaplain in Sheffield. His published works include The Ecclesiology of Stanley Hauerwas: A Christian Theology of Liberation (Ashgate, 2003), Church on Edge? Practising Christian Ministry Today (DLT, 2004), DOXA: A Discipleship Course (DLT, 2007), Living Holiness: Stanley Hauerwas and the Church (Epworth, 2010), and Sharing Friendship: Exploring Anglican Character, Vocation, Witness and Mission (Ashgate, 2015). He has lived in central and southern Africa for over sixteen years and in Yorkshire for twenty-five years.

Gavin Wakefield

Gavin Wakefield is Director of Training for Missional Ministry in the Diocese of York, overseeing a team responsible for lay and clergy development. Previously he has served in the dioceses of Sheffield and Chelmsford, and was, for ten years, Director of Mission and Pastoral Studies at Cranmer Hall, Durham. Although brought up in the South of England, he has happily spent most of his adult life in the North, seeking to contribute to the mission of the Church in this context. Among his publications are Alexander Boddy: Pentecostal Anglican Pioneer (Authentic Media, 2007), a biography of an unusual and influential vicar in Sunderland, and Holy People, Holy Places (Lion Hudson, 2008), a book for pilgrimage set in the North East.

John Wigfield

John Wigfield was born and educated in West Yorkshire, and has taught Modern Foreign Languages, mainly in northern towns, and English in Zimbabwe. Having served as Theological Consultant with the South American Mission Society in several countries in Latin America, he is currently Director of Pioneering Ministry at the Yorkshire Ministry Course, with responsibility for the Contextual Pathway. He enjoys combining an innate appreciation of the people and places of Yorkshire and the wider North, overseas experience, a training in missiology and contextual theology, and studies in Old Testament to train Anglican ordinands for mission and ministry in multi-faceted contexts within Yorkshire and beyond.

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