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A Welcome Addition to Sunderland Minster

8

January 2018

Earlier in 2017 local Freemasons became aware of one of the fantastic initiatives being organised by members of The Sunderland Minster. This initiative saw the Minster providing free “Fun Days” during the school holidays for children to spend the day taking part in fun activities throughout the day and also saw the volunteers trying to provide 160 nourishing meals for those that attended. These meals however were being prepared utilising less than adequate facilities, e.g. hot plates, boilers, kettles and flasks, with some foods being prepared overnight by volunteers and brought in.

This was something that was considered unsatisfactory and during a meeting with Canon Sheila Bamber they informed her that 2017, was in fact the Tercentenary Year of English Freemasonry and as part of their celebrations, Durham Benevolence, the Charitable Arm of Durham Freemasons, intended to give a total of £100,000 to local charities and worthwhile causes, particularly those involving children, in their Province, the old Palatinate of County Durham.

A quotation was gained for building a ‘Vestry Servery’ for £34,000 and £25,000 of the £100K was allocated to the project, the shortfall was made up from individual Masonic donations and The Sir John Priestman Trust.

The “Vestry Servery “is now complete and a special service, entitled “The Feast of Epiphany- – Gifts of the Kings “which included the blessing of the new Vestry Servery by the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, took place on Saturday 6th January 2018.

The Provincial Grand Master, Norman Eric Heaviside, accompanied by members of the executive and Durham Benevolence were joined by the Deputy Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear Norman Taylor, MBE, at the special service.

Amongst the congregation were ten Sunderland Freemasons who had made personal donations to the project.

Archdeacon Stuart Bain welcomed the congregation before handing over to the Bishop of Durham for blessing and dedication of the new servery.

In his dedication the Bishop, recognised the hard work and generosity that had been received to make this project possible namely the grateful support from Durham Freemasons. “Now that the Vestry Servery is complete it will enable the Minister to support local children and families through tough times throughout the school holidays welcoming them into a hospitable and caring church environment.” The Bishop then led the congregation into the servery for the blessing.

Provincial Grand Master for Durham Freemasons Eric Heaviside said, “We wanted to make a significant contribution to the community in our very special Tercentenary year and this project, we felt was the perfect opportunity to make a difference to many”

After the service, the new servery welcomed all the congregation for freshly brewed tea, coffee and biscuits, where much of the discussion was on the continuing success of taking this project forward.

Key members involved with the project had a photo call with the Bishop who, naturally, was the first to receive a “cuppa” from the new vestry servery.

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