Bedlington Salvation Army welcomes new officers
published on 8 Sep 2023
New ministers have been welcomed to Bedlington Salvation Army to lead the church and charity as it provides a range of support for the local community.
The church and community hub in Hartford Road runs a busy parent and toddler group, lunch club, over 60s group and much more thanks to a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, but it has been without officers (ministers who lead Salvation Army churches) for more than a year.
Majors Carrie and Philip James, who have been helping at the church for the past 12 months, have officially taken up their posts. They will also lead Newbiggin-by-the-Sea church.
For the past four years, the couple, who have three grown up children and one grandchild, have been based in North Shields as part of the local leadership team and before that were regional leaders for The Salvation Army in Poland.
Major Carrie said: “We’re delighted to be joining Bedlington Salvation Army. The church has a dedicated congregation and volunteers and a strong tradition of understanding the needs in our local community and finding ways of meeting those needs.
“There’s a lot of potential here. It’s a diverse church with people from all backgrounds and ages, from families with small babies up to people in their 90s, people with different skills and abilities to help make a great church in the heart of the community.”
Philip added: “We want to praise our members and volunteers for how they have continued to serve the community without an officer in post The message we get from them is together they are good, but are looking for some vision and leadership.
“It’s an exciting time as we have had new members join us recently, some are older and have come to worship via outreach groups, but we’ve also recently enrolled four teenagers as soldiers (confirmed members), which is really positive.”
The Salvation Army in Bedlington provides food packs to up to 20 people a week, runs a weekly seniors’ lunch club, parent and toddlers, over 60s group, messy church, film night, Thankful Friday coffee drop in and fellowship meetings.
One of the most popular activities is the lunch club, which has been busy recently, especially with rising cost of living as it provides a three-course meal for £4.
One regular, Robert, 66, was a full-time carer for his mother and used to bring her to the group before she got too poorly and sadly passed away a couple of years ago, but he has continued to come by himself.
Robert said: “As well as the lunch, we were also able to take a bag of food when we needed it, which we were always really grateful for. The Salvation Army have been very good all of the time I’ve been coming here. Everyone is friendly. It’s a really good organisation, I think they always try and help people.”
Arleen Thompson, Community Programme Coordinator, said: “We’re really happy to officially welcome Carrie and Philip to Bedlington. For the past year we’ve managed to run a full programme thanks to our army of dedicated volunteers. Now we’re looking forward to seeing what more we can do with their fantastic leadership. The future looks very bright for Bedlington Salvation Army.”