Vicar takes on Wylam and Ovingham parishes by motorcycle


VILLAGERS in Wylam and Ovingham are celebrating the news that they will have a new parish priest as of Monday.

The Rev. Tom Birch will become the priest in charge of both St Oswin’s Church in Wylam and St Mary the Virgin Church in Ovingham.

Taking on the role following three years as assistant curate at St Nicholas’ Church, Gosforth, he is the first vicar to be the incumbent of both parishes.

He said there will be plenty of joint working between the two – while he will beat the problem of parking by travelling between the parishes on his motorbike.

Mr. Birch (36) was previously a climate change and development economist, but after seriously considering ordination from the age of 21, he began his theological training in 2011 at Cuddesdon Theological College.

Having moved into the vicarage at Wylam with his wife Jessica and their three children last week, he is looking forward to growing the church and bringing hope.

“I am very much looking forward to being welcomed by people and making the church a welcoming place for newcomers,” he said.

“I have almost deliberately tried not to learn too much about the community before I arrived, so I could get to know it for myself, and I’m looking forward to meeting people and getting a stronger sense of the wonderful things going on and what God is doing here.”

Mr. Birch will be licensed by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev. Christine Hardman, at St Mary the Virgin Church at 7.30pm on Monday.

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