The Church of England in Durham
Positioned so close to Durham City Centre, we are lucky to be able to form relationships with a host of Church establishments, creating many, mutually beneficial, opportunities.
Our parent Church, St. Margaret’s, host many whole school services, including termly worship for all pupils. St. John’s Church, positioned nearer to our building but with a smaller capacity offers the opportunity for more personal worship such as Year 6 Eucharist. Durham Cathedral, also in walking distance, hosts many events combined with other schools, including the Year 6 leavers service and the ‘Children in Need Christmas Carol Service’ where our choir perform annually. We also feel hugely privileged to have been granted permission to host our end of year service in the cathedral in recent years to allow our large school community to worship together. With Christmas and Easter workshops also being held at North Road Methodist Church, our pupils certainly gain a great deal from the diverse worship opportunities which Durham has to offer.
Father Barnaby Huish, our rector, leads our involvement in the local churches.
End of Term Services
At the end of the Autumn and Spring term at St. Margaret’s Church and Summer term at Durham Cathedral, all 420+ of our pupils and staff enjoy worship based upon Christmas, Easter and ‘Moving On’ respectively.
We are lucky to have such a historical and beautiful parent church, which brings a superb atmosphere and reverence to our lives before we break for the holidays. Congregational hymns, singing by KS1 and KS2, plus performance by the choir are always a feature and the sound produced is incredible.
Pupil leadership is important in all of the services and children always lead the readings, selected from the Bible by Father Barnaby. Particularly at Christmas and Easter, our younger pupils lead the procession in to the church, celebrating the journey of Mary and Joseph and the arrival of Jesus at Jerusalem. Many artifacts are used to represent these main times of the Christian calendar and a tableau at the front of the church helps all ages to understand the significance of the occasion. The end of year service, is timed perfectly with the celebration day of St. Margaret and allows our pupils to celebrate her life in drama written by our own pupils. Liturgical dance, led by the year 2 pupils who are moving up, towards the year 6 pupils who are moving on is always an emotional and reflective moment.
Pupils in year 5 and 6 are given the opportunity to participate in a service of Holy Communion. Taking place at St. John’s Church, they are led through the service to help them learn about this traditional and important Anglican service. Led by Father Barnaby, pupils assist by singing, reading and praying. All pupils receive the opportunity to take bread and wine if that matches theirs, and their family, beliefs. Pupils can also opt to receive a blessing as part of the service instead.
Y6 Leaver’s Eucharist
At the end of the summer term, pupils in Year 6 take part in a special leavers Eucharist service. Given especially for them and their parents, the children reflect on their time in our school, the challenges of current transition and the hopes and possibilities for their future. We use St. Margaret’s Church, as the space allows the service to move through the building, starting at the font to represent the beginning of their journey and then moving through the Church to the altar, where pupils may receive bread and wine or a simple blessing for the future. The pupils wrote prayers, read from the bible and presented their ‘story sticks’ to the church. The story sticks were created during forest school sessions and include a selection of items and decoration to remind them of their journey so far. All pupils then received a bible and school book mark to support them in their future life.
During Lent, Year 5 visit North Road Methodist Church, to experience the ‘Easter Journey’. This most beautiful of chapels is transformed in to a variety of experience spaces where pupils can smell, taste, see and hear the important events which built up to the resurrection of Jesus.
Pupils and staff have great fun but, most importantly, leave with a wealth of knowledge about the Easter story and hopefully a better understanding of the importance of Jesus in our lives.
End of Year Service at Durham Cathedral
For years now, our end of year service has been held in St. Margaret’s Church. The size of the building, however, meant that parents were unable to attend, as our 420 pupils filled the building. For the first time this year, after some hard work by Father Barnaby, Durham Cathedral gave us permission to hold our end of year service in the Cathedral itself – what an honour.
On the final day of term 2016, all pupils, staff and many parents filled the cathedral, watched by a huge number of members of the public who were visiting the Cathedral that day. Year 6 pupils opened the service with a parade of the school banner before a pupil from each year group talked about a symbol which represented their year group over the last academic year. The singing was amazing, particularly from the choir who performed, and many pupils led readings and prayers which were spine tingling in such a historic and holy location. All Year 2 pupils filled the aisle with their liturgical dance to the ‘Irish Blessing’ music which has become a feature of leavers services in recent years.
Pupils from year 4 also acted out a drama, which had been written as a poem by three Year 6 pupils. The service was the day before St. Margaret’s day and to celebrate her life in word and drama, in the Cathedral, was an amazing and fitting end to what had been an amazing year in school.
C of E Schools Year 6 Leavers Service
Each year, our year 6 pupils get the opportunity to attend the leavers service organised by Durham Diocese. It gives them opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges of their time in primary school and chance to think and pray about the future as they approach secondary school.
This year, pupils spent an hour moving around prayer stations, focusing on ‘wow’ moments, people who have cared for them, worries about the future and the skills and talents they have gained.
They then joined in a service with hundreds of other pupils to sing, dance, pray and give thanks for the past and the future. All of this in the inspirational setting of Durham Cathedral – what a wonderful opportunity.