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Trainee vicars undertake marketing and communications work placement

21 June 2019

For the last four years two ordinands, who are trainee Church of England priests, have undertaken a week long work placement with the Marketing and Events Team at Durham Cathedral. Their vocational training is at Cranmer Hall, the Theology College at St John’s College, Durham University.  

The placement happens immediately after a communications conference organised by CODEC, the Research Centre for Digital Theology at St John’s College, led by the Rev Dr Pete Phillips. It explores the impact of digital culture, especially on faith and community communication in the life of the contemporary Church. 

Whilst on placement at Durham Cathedral the ordinands gain first-hand experience of generating and creating promotional materials such as media releases, writing copy for social media and digital marketing, using the admin system of a website and writing blog content.  The placement supports the topics explored at the MediaLit conference, as the ordinands prepare for ministry developing practical communication skills often required of a modern vicar. 
This year’s placement students at the Cathedral are Joseph Mottram and Mahalah Wachepa.  Joseph has previously trained and worked as a scientist, most recently as a post-doctoral research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.  Training for ordination is an opportunity for him to explore the relationship between God and science.  Mahalah is originally from Malawi and moved to the UK in 2002.  Originally living in Leeds, she moved to Stockton in 2010. In 2011, she trained as an Authorised Pastoral Assistant in the Diocese of Durham, leading to her acceptance at Cranmer Hall.   

Joseph said, “This has been an amazing experience allowing me to gain practical experience of writing for communication purposes.  It has also broadened my understanding of how the Cathedral works both at the centre of a local community and drawing interest from around the world.”  

Mahalah has written a blog post for Durham Cathedral as part her placement.  This can be found on

The Rev Dr Pete Phillips, of CODEC, and organiser of the MediaLit conference said, “Digitality is part and parcel of the contemporary world. Every year students enjoy the teaching and conversation on the MediaLit course within the academic environment of St John’s College. But by then going out on placement into media agencies, radio stations, and, of course, to Durham Cathedral, they begin to see how that learning might be put into practice in a live experience of a religious communications organisation. We are deeply grateful for the staff like those at Durham Cathedral for giving of both their time and wisdom to enhance the students’ training.”   

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham said, “We welcome this opportunity to work in partnership with Cranmer Hall Theology College, supporting this important aspect of preparation for ministry as a priest in the Church of England.  21st century clergy are required to be multi-faceted in their approach to mission. Understanding and being able to use contemporary communication tools as part of this approach will be incredibly useful for Joseph and Mahalah.  We have enjoyed having them at the Cathedral and pray for them as they continue their ordination training and vocation as Church of England clergy.” 
Joseph and Mahalah are about to complete their first year of training at Cranmer Hall. They have another year to complete before they are ordained as Deacons, ahead of being ordained as Priests the following year.