Been working hard recently, not on the stuffs of weddings, as such, but on a full time Christian project based in Durham City!  The local church is very important to me.  I’m a committed Christian, and I believe in the local church community.  It is, after all, what gave me reason to start this very business I run today.

My church is Kings Church Durham, a vibrant, fairly large church meeting in the centre of Durham.  For the past 6 years (and I’m proud to say I’ve been involved every year!) our church has run a community outreach project, creatively named the June Project.

This year, I volunteered from Wednesday through to Sunday (with plenty of prep time beforehand) to help make the June Project happen. Over 130 people, mainly students at Durham University signed up full-time for the project this year!  We go out all over Durham City wearing our “June Project” T-shirts and volunteer by clearing gardens, singing on the streets, ran fun-days, youth sports events and much much more.

Probably the best way to explain the project is to watch this video, created overnight by some good friends of mine: June Project 2012 Video.

As ever, I kept my camera close – and snapped away at unexpecting participants of the project… It might give you a little overview of what we were up to.

The project always involves lots of gardening.  We clear people’s gardens for free.

One team of delegates from the project worked all week with some youth in one of the local estates.

We had a team of clowns and face painters in town and on the fundays, who entertained children and chatted to them about their lives, and about their faith.

There was also an Acoustic Night as part of the June Project this year, with some very talented people from the church playing a few songs each. It was a great night!

It also rained. A lot. But it didn’t stop us…

King’s Church Durham Charity Christmas Cards

I am very pleased to show you a glimpse of the King’s Church Durham 2011 Charity Christmas Cards!

I’ve been designing these over the past few weeks, with the aim to make these cards modern, unique and yet traditional to the Christmas Story.  They are printed on deliciously shimmering thick card, making the bauble design glimmer in the light.  Each card has it’s own white envelope and is blank inside for your own message.

The profits from the sale of these cards goes straight to Handcrafted, a new initiative based in Durham City, helping the disadvantaged to gain valuable, employable and creative skills.  I’m really excited about this project, I think it carries a pro-active attitude to helping disadvantaged and long term unemployed people back into employment by learning traditional and modern skills.

I’m also helping to head up the King’s Church Christmas Fayre in Durham on Saturday 3rd December.  No, not the main one in the market square, but an even better one, based in the centre of Durham, in the Appleby Rooms, Church Street (opposite St Oswalds Church).  I’m going to have a stall there, as are about 15 other creative people, selling all sorts of beautiful bits and pieces, yummy cakes, pancakes, homemade mince pies, warm spicy apple drinks, jewellery, Christmas cards, wreaths, gifts and much much more.  10% of all sales at this fayre go straight to Handcrafted too, to give the project the boost it needs to get going in the new year.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering the Kings Christmas Cards, then you can join others by filling in the Christmas Card Form and popping down your name, email address and how many packs you would like.


Last week, our Church ran it’s famous June Project. 120 people signed up to serve Durham City in practical ways for 4 solid days. Groups of people went out in teams to do gardening, litter picking, painting, hosting events, talking to people, running tea parties the elderly, meeting people on the streets, singing to people in care homes, giving away free teas and coffees and much more than this. All to show God’s love in practical ways to this city.
We also ran an art exhibition. I helped plan the shape of the exhibition, and managed to convince others it would be a great idea to hang up paintings on pallets and reuse old doors and bits of wood, wine boxes, plant pots and more to create a ‘junkyard’ feel.  Haha!  Perhaps I’ll post some photos at some point in the future. I also submitted a photo to the exhibition as you can see above. I called it “Cleanse”.
I won’t explain too much of my reasoning for the “Cleanse” photos on here, you can just look at the pictures and wonder for yourselves for now, but I will point you to our fancy new kcd arts blog, which is serving as a mini online gallery for some of the art work that featured in the exhibit.

One for the Durham Students

Attention Students in Durham!
I have heard you have been working on the staircases in the library, in the corridors and on the grass.  Revising in the toilets, rushing for the privileged silent Level 4 room and sustaining yourself with litres of diet coke.
I have heard you carry around at least three folders with you and get out books from the library you don’t need.  I have heard of early morning runs and swims to improve concentration.  I have heard of some of you eyeing up ‘hotties’ on Level 3, or was it Level 1 or Level 2…?
I have heard of ‘study groups’ in coffee shops and ‘baking therapy’ helps.  I have heard that phone calls to parents and friends increase for Durham students around the month of May.   I have heard that June is the best month ever…?
Students, I have a few words of advice for you.
1.  Calm Down.
2.  Take a Deep Breath
3.  If you’re looking for an alternative place to study – then see the flyer above.  Appleby Rooms on Church Street – running 9-6pm most days.  I’ll be there and I’ll say hello to you, and then remind you of points 1 and 2 above.  It would be lovely to see you.
All the best in your exams.

Illustration: The Great Thing About Community

At my church, there are lots of students, lots of twenty-or-thirty-somethings, a few families, many academics, lots of inspiring people, a few from older generations and usually about 8 or 9 interns.
You’re an intern if you’re doing the Internship. I did the internship that my church runs last academic year. It starts in September and finishes in July. It’s a course/scheme/volunteer year that combines theology, service, community work, church work, team work and lots of training. It’s been running for five years now (take a look at my flickr photo – a collection of interns and “externs” ) and the current fifth year interns have just ‘graduated‘ (artistic license). This Sunday was their last official Sunday as an intern and it was a bit sad really.
Quite often those who do the internship are Durham University graduates and often they stay in Durham, find a house and some housemates and try to find a job. This year, 5 of the team of 9 planned to leave Durham and said their teary goodbyes yesterday. (More than previous years, I think.)
I had a ponder about what I wanted to say to those who are leaving, what encouraging message I wanted to share with them about where they may find themselves next. I tried to sketch it.
I was thinking about community. Our church is a wonderful community of people, a mixture of ages, professions, interests, hobbies, giftings… it can be hard to leave somewhere when you feel settled. The sketch above was about finding a new community (the inner circle of people – yes, they are people – check out the shoes!) such as new housemates, relationships, people at new churches, people at old churches, colleagues etc, whilst being supported by a wider community (the outer circle of people – yes, they are meant to be people too) such as our families, our friends, people whom our lives have crossed with for a short while or a long while, our old housemates, our ex-colleagues and members of King’s Church Durham.
I think the great thing about community is that there’s layers to it. There are those that we share our lives with at the time, and there are those that continue to care, love, hope for, pray for and support us even though they live far away.
So to all those who leave Durham this year to new places – “we’ll miss you and we won’t forget you and you’re still part of our community.”
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