Popular local CofE priest Mike Dixon held a ‘Celebration of Ministry’ on Sunday 24th September marking his 50th Anniversary as a Minister.

St. Clare’s Church was packed with friends and relatives for the Holy Communion Service attended by fellow members of the priesthood who took part in the Service.

Canon Glyn Evans gave the sermon recounting his long association with Mike, known for his “down to earth and laid back” approach in his ministry.

The choir for the Service was brought together and conducted by George Lee and as a tribute to his ‘Geordieness’ and Mike’s support for Newcastle United, former fellow County Councillor Keith Davidson played the Northumbrian Pipes as the congregation entered the church.

Mike started his life as a clergymen as a Curate in Hartlepool before moving to York. He was then appointed as Prison Chaplain at Liverpool, Onley, Frankland, Durham and finally Acklington.

He became Priest in Charge at St. James’, Shilbottle from 2003 – 2007 before retiring to live in Newton Aycliffe when he became a County Councillor for 9 years.

Mike’s move here was prompted by his marriage to Newtonian Mary. As Prison Chaplain Mike appointed Prison Visitors; Mary applied and Mike met her at the prison and appointed her. After 6 years their friendship developed, the courtship began and they were married in 1999 at Shilbottle, in Northumberland.

Between them they have 6 children, 13 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. Most of the family live in the North East except for Andy who lives in New Zealand.

Mike said: “I want to thank everyone who made the Jubilee Celebration such a joyous occasion. St. Clare’s was packed out with people of all ages from my life and all areas of my ministry who came to be with us in a Eucharist and for the meal. It was truly a collective effort and I would like to thank the young and not so young parishioners of Great Aycliffe, who under Mary’s guidance put on the celebratory banquet”

“Thanks for the music from Keith Davidson on the Northumbrian pipes, Joe Lennox and Judith Harper, on guitar and violin, and the choir under the guidance of George Lee. Mayor Wendy and consort Jed were also present. Thanks to Glynn Evans who preached and Canon Peter Tarleton from Ireland who interceded. My thanks to all who came and joined in the occasion – a very joyful celebration of the Ministry of all people”

After the splendid banquet, enjoyed by everyone, there followed a cake cutting ceremony. Don Walker, our local butcher, was invited on stage to be “beatified” in recognition of providing all the meats for the meal.

Mike’s wife Mary, bought Don an apron in readiness for his retirement so he could keep clean while washing the dishes at home. He also received a halo to mark his “Sainthood”.

It was a lovely lighthearted occasion where all Mike’s friends and relatives came together to mark his 50 years service as a minister and it was an occasion for Mike to remember with pride.

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