Christmas Services and Events at St Michael’s – dates for your diary


Join us in celebrating the greatest news of all this Christmas – God with us!

These are our Christmas Services and Events:

Tuesday 13th December, 7.00pm – Light of Life Service 

A service to remember loved ones and dedicate a light on our Christmas tree

Wednesday 14th December, 7.00pm – Gilpin Singers Christmas Concert

£3 entry, enjoy a varied concert of music old and new, get in the Christmas spirit!

Saturday 17th December, 11.00am – Carol Singing in the Wild Boar Pub

Meet us in the Wild Boar for some carol singing – wear a Christmas jumper!

Sunday 18th December, 3.00pm – Christingle

A magical family service – all proceeds to Children’s Society

Christmas Eve

3.00pm Interactive Family Crib Service – a chance to take part in a nativity play and sing some carols

7.00pm Our Traditional 9 Lessons and Carols Service

11.30pm Midnight Mass

Christmas Day

8.30am Eucharist

10.00am Festival Eucharist


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September Signpost

The Signpost for September is available to read HERE.

Feel free to share with friends, family or neighbours you think would enjoy reading the Signpost. If you know anyone without access to email or missing their copy would you please telephone or text your request to Malcolm Foster on 07860 250300 and we will try our best to get copies to them. If you would like to have an electronic copy sent to you automatically, email with your request.
Once again huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this edition and a special thank you to Malcolm (editor) and Steve for all their efforts to get it published.

Job Vacancy

We are looking for a new Space4 Manger.

Contract Type: Fixed term
Hours: Part time
Application deadline: Saturday, 15 August, 2020 – 17:00
Based: Sunderland
Fixed Salary: £24,267 Pro Rata
Employer: Space4 (part of St Michael & All Angels church, Houghton-le-spring)

Helping to shape and leading us to our ‘Next Chapter’?

The Space4 project is part of the community work of St Michael and All Angel’s (Church of England) church based in Houghton-le-spring.  The project works typically with people who rarely feel valued in society working with and being alongside them while seeking to be ‘a space for community to flourish’.

In the past, our approach has focussed on creating a welcoming and safe space within a dedicated building based on the high street.  Our ethos leads us to try to make sure people feel valued and cherished as part of a community, believing that everyone has something to contribute.  We try to empower people to take control of their own lives and encourage people to be the best version of ourselves we can be.

In recent months, the Covid crisis has caused a multitude of issues for already vulnerable people.  In response we have changed our delivery model to continue to be alongside people providing support through online contact, through ‘creative making’ projects in the community as well as providing emergency food through an expanded foodbank.

As we move through this ‘recovering’ phase of the crisis, we are seeking a Space4 Manager to work with our Project Board to help shape and lead us into our ‘Next Chapter’.

Space4 Manager

Space4 (part of St Michael & All Angels church, Houghton-le-spring)

Houghton-le-spring (and surrounding area)

One year fixed term contract (potential for extension)

Part time 22.5 hours p/wk.


Salary £14,560 per annum, (equivalent to £24,267 FTE based on 37.5 hour week)

Pension (with ‘People’s Pension’, 4% employer contribution)

We are looking for someone with drive and energy but who is a good listener and has a compassionate approach.  They must be diplomatic and tactful and to be able to sensitively deal with people from a range of different backgrounds as well as being able to represent the project externally.  They should have good organisation skills and leadership experience ideally working with community projects with knowledge of community development practices.

Leading a team of staff and volunteers they will take overall accountability and, with the Space4 Assistant Manager, manage the day to day operations of the project.  They will supervise and support the Assistant Manager to provide on-line and community-based services to help people dealing with social isolation and mental health issues.  They will also supervise and support the Foodbank Coordinator to deliver a foodbank for people struggling with food poverty and provide toiletries and baby essentials for families in need.

Working with the project steering group, they will draw on their listening to contacts in the community to identify needs while emerging from the Covid crisis and help to  develop the vision and strategy for the ‘Next Chapter’ of the Space4 project.  They will be responsible for the management of project finance and (using an external bookkeeper) will provide financial and operational reporting to the project board.  They will also work with staff and board members to proactively seek sources of funding and prepare funding applications.

The successful candidate should have a positive attitude to Christian ethos and values. 

Find out more about our story and whether you can help shape and lead us into our ‘Next Chapter’ by following this link.  You can also follow links to download Role Description and Application Form

For more information and an application form contact:

             Angela Slater:


             or call: 0793 106 4891

The closing date for applications is Saturday 15th of August at 5pm.

Interviews will be held on Monday 24th August 2020.  The format and scheduling of the interviews depend upon the lockdown conditions and pandemic situation prevailing at that time. It is possible that interviews will be conducted through Zoom.

Space4 and St Michael and All Angels, Houghton-le-spring are committed to equality and diversity and welcome applicants from all sections of the community.

This post is subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions Order) 1975. It will be necessary for an enhanced disclosure to be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service for details of any previous criminal convictions.

Returning to our buildings

A small first step in returning to our buildings

This Sunday we are taking a small but significant step in returning to our church buildings.  From Sunday 19th July we will be holding a service of Holy Communion in St Michael’s.  

We’re only able to do this if we follow government and church guidance so that we’re both legal and people are safe.  This means that we are limited as to who can be in church and so we will be keeping our ‘on-line’ services for the foreseeable future to help people engage with worship whether they can be in church or not.  

From this next Sunday our pattern of worship will be as follows:

9am Holy Communion from St Michael’s
-limited to 15 households of up to 3, places to be booked in advance.
-this will be ‘live streamed’ on church facebook page (available from this time, including for those used to 10am service).

11am Service of the Word on Zoom and Dial-in
-with different contributors for Reading, Prayers, Sermon
-with the choir leading us in hymns 
-with the opportunity to chat afterwards in 2s&3s in ‘breakout rooms’

11am Young Church on Zoom 
-please contact the parish office if you want to be a part of this.

If you are able and would like to come to our 9am service in church please book in for this by calling the parish office on 0770 7043395 between 10 and 2 on a Tuesday or Thursday.   

We will be allocating seating on a first come first served basis, if there is no space on a particular week we will allocate seating for future weeks to people who have been unable to attend because of lack of availability.  We will also need you to give us a contact telephone number for ‘track and trace’ purposes.

We recognise this is a very different way of doing church and it feels very strange to be having to take this approach but this is a small first step to our returning to our buildings.  We remain committed to retaining our on-line ways of being church in this time of transition.   
Please continue to keep our leadership team in prayer as they seek to help us navigate through these times.  

Some Information that may be helpful

1. What is going to be different when I come to church?
We have to make sure socially distancing is kept in church – this has necessitated removing many of the pews and introducing a ‘one-way system’ around the church building.  We are also limited in what we can do in church and need to have a shorter liturgy, we are unable to sing hymns nor can we meet in the meeting room or serve refreshments.   

2. Where can I sit in church?
Our seating in church is limited to 15 pews which can seat up to 3 people (who must be from the same household or ‘bubble’) – we need to know in advance contact details for who is coming into a service (we keep these for 3 weeks) for ‘track and trace’ purposes.

3. If I am unwell or clinically vulnerable can I come to church?
People who are self isolating or who have symptoms of coronovirus should not attend church.  People who are clinically vulnerable will be at increased risk and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable have been advised not to attend large gatherings but the decision to come to worship is theirs alone.  Masks can be worn but, at this stage, they are not obligatory.

4. Can anyone come to church?
Yes of course but we are limited in our numbers and people must book in advance .
5. In what other ways are our buildings open?
Our church building is also open for funerals at present.  We have further planning to do before agreeing our approach for opening for weddings & baptisms as well as our Newbottle Street building for our Space4 project.

Welcome to John D’Silva

We were delighted to welcome our new Curate John Di’Silva at a special service of Welcome on Sunday 5th July.  John introduced himself to us and said he’s hoping to meet many of us over the coming weeks (via ‘zoom’ or telephone or in a socially distanced garden meeting!). We are all looking forward to getting to know him better and wish him well in his ministry with us over the coming years.

On-line collection

Money Matters!
As you’d imagine, with not being in our church buildings financial giving to church is down significantly while many of our financial commitments have not gone away.  This week we’re trialling a new way of giving to church with our ‘on-line collection’ – a bit like a collection plate being out on the way into church!  We’ll send a link to this with our service invitation or you can access it here.  If you would like to find out about regular giving to St Michael and All Angels please contact our Treasurer Alastair Bradley at email .

May 2020 Signpost Magazine

In our continuing efforts to keep in touch with as many people in our parish we are pleased to be able to continue to publish our monthly Signpost. As with the last edition we are trying to distribute this months church magazine to as many people as we are able while following Government guidelines.
This means we will publish the Signpost online again on our website and distribute to as many people as possible. Please follow this link to read May’s Signpost
Feel free to share with friends, family or neighbours you think would enjoy reading the Signpost. If you know anyone without access to email, missing their copy would you please telephone or text your request to Malcolm Foster on 07860 250300 and we will try our best to get copies to them. If you would like to have an electronic copy sent to you automatically, email with your request.
A huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this edition and a special thank you to Malcolm (editor) and Steve for all the last minute effort to get it published.

With my continued prayers and very good wishes.


Friends of Houghton Parish Church Trust – April 2020 Update




It is with great regret that the Trustees have had to cancel the Friends Annual Musical Weekend in May which was going to be a feast of amazing talents from new and well loved performers.   We are very aware of this dreadful pandemic affecting all our lives, therefore you will not be surprised by this decision. 

It is our intention to postpone the delivery of the already prepared Annual Report until such time as it is deemed safe to do so.  The Trustees are hoping that all our loyal subscribers to the Friends will continue to support the great work that has been achieved through the Trust.

As many of you know, the Friends Trust is committed to opening the Church daily throughout the summer months.  To this end a new notice board has been ordered to advertise the Church opening times.  This would have been ready for the beginning of the season, but has had to be postponed until Church reopens.

In the meantime, all the Trustees wish you a safe passage through these life changing times.  


If anyone would like to join the Friends, please contact George Peebles, our membership secretary on (0191)5841628.

Easter Egg Parade 2020

We have loved seeing the response from everyone getting involved and sharing with us their egg-tastic designs! Below are pictures of a few of the first eggs from the children of Young Church, 2nd Houghton Guides, Space4 and from our congregation! Keep sending us your eggy designs and we’ll keep sharing them – Easter doesn’t end till 31st May.

George Peebles, Organist Celebrates 30 years!

It was a delight to enjoy some of George’s favourite hymns at our Parish Eucharist this morning as we celebrated 30 years as our organist and musical director.  After the service he was presented with gifts and cards and we all got to enjoy a cake that looked too good to be cut and a glass of something sparkling.  Huge thanks to George for all his dedicated hard work and the joy he brings to our worship through music.

Boxing Day Dip

Well done to our fabulous four who braved the freezing sea at Seaham on Boxing Day morning to raise money for Church funds. Well done, we are thankful to our dippers and to all who sponsored them. Thank you.