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Supporting Ministry

Worship Academy Vocations Continuing Development in Ministry Learning and Development Local Lay Pastors Local Preachers and Worship Leaders

Worship Academy

The Worship Academy is a Darlington District initiative which supports Local Preachers, Worship Leaders in developing their ministry. The Academy organises several online events each year including a Lectionary Study Day. The Academy also signposts other resources and study opportunities.


Do you sense that God is calling you to something new or to develop further in a calling you are already responding to? Whatever calling may be – lay or ordained, in church or community – the Methodist Church offers a number of opportunities for exploration.

You can find out more at Vocations methodist.org.uk.

Here though are some opportunities you may want to explore further:


Encounter is a free, six session online programme in which you explore together with others your discipleship and vocation.

  • Encounter is a place to deepen your awareness of God
  • An opportunity to reflect on your faith journey
  • A supportive small group environment for sharing and learning together
  • A place to help you discern your unique calling

You can find more about Encounter at Encounter methodist.org.uk or by contacting:
Tricia Mitchell – mitchellt@methodistchurch.org.uk
Sharon Nugent – nugents@methodistchurch.org.uk


Explore is an opportunity for any member of the Methodist Church in Britain to take a breath, step back, and consider how they are called to respond to God's call through worship, learning & caring, evangelism or service.

You can sign up at any time of year and when you do so you will be offered:

  • Reflecting with an Accompanist
  • Journaling your experiences
  • Shadowing people involved in work of the kingdom of God
  • A range of learning & development resources and support to dip in an out of
  • Being part of a group who learn together on a 9 month course

More details are available at Explore methodist.org.uk.

Exploring Ordination

Some people discern that God is calling them to a lifetime of service as an ordained presbyter or deacon.

The Methodist Church runs a number of Ordination Exploration Days. Information about these can be found at Ordination Exploration Days (methodist.org.uk).

Continuing Development in Ministry

Will you be faithful in worship, in prayer, in the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and in those studies which will equip you for your ministry? Answer: I will.

(Ordination Promise made by Methodist Presbyters and Deacons, Methodist Worship Book)

Growing in vocation is a lifetime undertaking. It involves time for study, reflective space, rest and recreation, review, accountability and supervision. There are several elements which contribute to continuing development.

District Financial Support

The district maintains a District Training Fund. The maximum amount that can be claimed by any minister in the district is £600 per connexional year subject to the availability of funds and the requirement that the minister concerned shall be responsible for at least one third of the costs. An application form and details of the policy can be accessed here.

Ministerial Development Review

Ministerial Development Review (MDR) is an annual process of review where each minister is supported by a lay contributor and an ordained contributor as they reflect on their ministry. This provides an important opportunity for ministers to share their reflections, insights and hopes with others who have a responsibility for their well-being and for their growth in ministry. They will often work with others to obtain feedback from local church members and circuit post holders around aspects of ministry and consider the responses together in the meeting.

The MDR handbook can be found here – ministerialdevelopmentreview_final.pdf methodist.org.uk.


All members of the Methodist Church, lay and ordained, may apply for Connexional support for proposed higher education (HE) study. This is usually for a taught Masters, a research degree or in a theological subject area. Further details of criteria and how to apply can be found at Scholarships and Funding (methodist.org.uk).

The Methodist Church supports two Network Centres (the Queen's Foundation, Birmingham, and Cliff College) which provide a range of learning opportunities including research. The district has a close, historic link with the Wesley Study Centre which forms part of Cranmer Hall at St John's College, Durham. The details of these institutions can be found below:


All Methodist presbyters and deacons are entitled to a sabbatical every seven years. A sabbatical lasts for three months and is an opportunity for re-equipping, refreshment and renewal and often involves time for study, retreat and re-creation. More details on planning a sabbatical can be found at Sabbaticals (methodist.org.uk).

The district sabbaticals officer is Revd Isabel Stuart and her details can be found in the District Directory.


Supervision in the Methodist Church is an exploratory and reflective process. Every ordained minister is required to meet 1:1 for 9 hours with a trained, resourced and approved supervisor to reflect on their vocation and practice over the course of a connexional year. Others with significant pastoral responsibility are also encouraged to be in supervision. This is not to be confused with line management or assessment. Rather it is an accompanied process of reflection on ministry.

More details can be found at Supervision (methodist.org.uk) as well as an introductory video.

Learning and Development

The role of the Learning Network is to equip and resource the Church through a wide range of contextually relevant learning and development opportunities. You can download our latest Learning Development opportunities and sign up to our events. The Learning Network shares responsibility with others within the Connexional Team and key stakeholders within the districts, circuits and churches. The work of the Learning Network is developed from what comes out of Conference, including the Connexional strategies across the team, and what comes up from the grassroots of the districts. The Learning Network works together Connexionally on national projects such as 3Generate, as well as delivering training and facilitating learning events such as Supervision and Positive Working Together.

Priorities for learning and development are considered through the Connexional Learning & Development Forum. These are a mix of locally (church, circuits and district) requested work areas alongside conference/Connexional work areas, with a view to enabling districts and circuits in being places of lifelong learning and sharing. Our priorities are also rooted in all aspects of Our Calling, to inspire and equip people for a Methodist way of life – growing as followers of Jesus through our worship, learning and caring, service and evangelism, so that the love of God can be made known in all we do as an inclusive, justice-seeking and evangelistic church.

Each District has an aligned Learning & Development Officer (LDO). The aligned officer role is one element of an LDO's work as a member of the Learning Network and wider Connexional team. They may also have specialist skills and knowledge, which may be drawn on through the shared work plan. Through alignment they will:

  • Enable Learning and Development in the District;
  • Form key relationship with local leaders (lay and ordained) – superintendents, pioneers, circuit stewards, lay employees, district officers, DSOs etc.
  • Be the main point of contact for the Learning Network in the local area;
  • Advocate for the learning needs of the District in the Learning Network context;
  • Be the flow of communication from the local context to the Connexional team and vice versa;
  • Be an ambassador for Connexional values and work;
  • Identify key learning and development needs in the District and, with their Learning and Development Manager (LDM), help these to be recognised in the Connexional Learning and Development Forum;
  • Track levels of engagement with learning opportunities across the district by circuit;
  • Support needs of particular contexts – Scotland due to geography and Cymru Wales due to language
  • Agree (at the beginning of the Connexional year) in partnership between the Chair, LDM and LDO which they will be part of (Synods, DPCs, Induction, NPNP Hubs, Etc)
  • Agree additional work requests from other Learning Network/Connexional Team members with their LDM.

There are six Learning & Development Managers (LDM) working with the Head of Ministries and Learning to manage the Learning Network, who are also part of the new Lead Managers group within the Connexional Team. Each LDM has responsibility for some of the L&D Officers.

The Learning & Development Manager for the North East Staff Group is Rachel McCallam. Her contact details are: mccallamr@methodistchurch.org.uk and 07799 900478.

The aligned Learning & Development officer for the Darlington District is James Ballantyne. ballantynej@methodistchurch.org.uk07384 810587

Local Lay Pastors

In 2021, the Methodist Conference established the office of Local Lay-Pastor in the Changing Patterns of Ministry Report. Local Lay-Pastors are part of the ministry of Circuits and provide a recognised presence among a congregation or gathered community and in the wider community. They care for, enable, lead and represent a local church or churches. It is a form of ministry complementary to but distinct from the ministries of presbyters, deacons and other lay officers in enabling the Church's mission for the sake of the world. They can work on a voluntary or an employed basis.

Further information can be found at Local Lay-Pastors (methodist.org.uk).

If you are interested in becoming a Local Lay Pastor, speak first to your Superintendent who will help you to explore the role, whether this is the right role for you and the kinds of support which will help you prepare for and flourish in the role.

Local Preachers and Worship Leaders

The Methodist Church has always recognised and affirmed the ministry of lay people in the leading of worship and preaching. Two roles (Worship Leaders and Local Preachers) are particularly important. The training of Local Preachers and Worship Leaders takes place within a circuit with support from the district and the learning network.

Initial preparation for these ministries involves completion of the Worship: Leading and Preaching course. More details are available at Worship: Leading & Preaching (methodist.org.uk).

Opportunities for continuing development are available through the District Worship Academy and the Learning Network.



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Elm Ridge Methodist Church
Carmel Road South

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