Explaining that some communities in the Diocese of Newcastle have been looking for a vicar for over two years, Bishop Mark said there were “fantastic opportunities” that are not being taken. He cited the lack of theological colleges in the north as a potential cause of the dearth in leaders – “Nine of the eleven theological colleges are south of the M62.

“When people go to train somewhere, very often they want to stay there. If they train in a southern theological college, literally 50 per cent of them want to stay there, whereas if they train in a northern theological college, 98 per cent stay in the north. So this is something that we need to take seriously – the location where we train people.” He also appealed to those trained in the south to consider moving, saying “the missional opportunities up here are fantastic and you will not find a better quality of life in the country””. According to Tanner, his URC and Baptist counterparts also experience the same issue.