THE new Rector of Morpeth was delighted with the warm welcome he received from town residents.
Rev Simon White was instituted at a packed St James’ Church on Saturday by the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Rev Frank White, and the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne, the Venerable Peter Robinson.
The service included singing by pupils from All Saints First School and a music group from his former parish of Felton, Longframlington with Brinkburn Priory.
Clergy and ministers from the Church of England and other churches across the area were joined by representatives of many community groups, led by the Mayor of Morpeth, Joan Tebbutt.
Rev White has experience of Morpeth through his roles as Diocesan Youth Officer (North), Chair of the Mustard Tree Trust and a Boys Brigade Captain and he is looking forward to meeting more members of the community.
He said: “Morpeth is a great town and it was lovely to see so many people at my institution service and my first Sunday service in St Mary’s Church.
“The churchwardens are lovely people, there is a great staff team in place and there is a very active and affirming church community.
“I hope that all of us together can make sure that we are an outward looking church and I’m looking forward to meeting and supporting people of all ages and backgrounds and working with Morpeth’s first, middle and high schools.
“The town is really blessed to have three (Anglican parish) churches with their own identity and I’m keen to develop each one so they can continue to bless their local community.
“I have always been ecumenical and enjoy working with other churches and denominations. I already know some of the other ministers and priests in Morpeth and I’m looking forward to being part of Morpeth Churches Together activities and projects.
“One area I will be looking to strengthen is the church’s youth provision and engagement with young people.”
The 47-year-old is married to Jane and they have four children – Ben, 21, Beth, 20, Jack, 17, and Josh, nine.
Before entering the ministry 10 years ago, he was joint managing director of a business which designed hotels, nightclubs and pubs that were built in the UK and abroad, including the Firkin brand, and this divided his time between Newcastle and London.
Rev White said: “I was in church one Sunday morning and somebody came up to me and said ‘does God want you to do something different’?
“I then went to a quiet area on my own and felt a great sense of peace, which helped me decide to join the ministry. When I told my wife, vicar and friends, they all said that they expected this to happen – they knew before I did.”
He moved to a theological college in Nottingham and his first curacy was at St Michael and All Angels in Alnwick.