Deddington Deanery mixes the large town of Banbury, with pockets of severe urban deprivation with large villages and small rural towns. It’s a diverse deanery, where clergy often work with us as well as with the neighbouring Peterborough and Coventry Dioceses.
Urban ministry in Banbury
by Beom-Jin Shin
BANBURY Street Pastors had an official launch on 30th November 2011. We usually patrol on Saturday nights. I work with volunteers from many churches in Banbury. It has been a fascinating experience to work with other Christians as a team. We are trying to engage with people on the streets and listen, care and help those who are in need and ensure the safety of visitors to pubs and clubs.
There have been some remarkable results, including drops in crime in areas since teams have been working. What would Jesus do on the street at night? We ask God to use us as his tools to show His love through our actions to our brothers and sisters on the streets. But actually, as we share our stories each week, we know that we receive more than we give to people and God works in our hearts through them.
Taekwondo Youth Mission
The Taekwondo mission provides young people with the opportunity to experience something new (perhaps unexpected) and challenging. However, based on my experience of teaching Taekwondo for young people in a church in London, I believe that Taekwondo can help young people to develop Christian values and principles such as self-control, perseverance, respect and integrity. Taekwondo helps to achieve a healthier body and thus a healthy mind. People develop a sense of achievement, greater confidence and inner peace.
I have ten young trainees from age six to thirteen so far. We meet up and train together in St Mary’s Church Centre, every Thursday afternoon.
We pray together and share Bible messages during the session. Taekwondo brings people together and helps strengthen the bonds between different members of the community. Therefore, Taekwondo provides both an inner and outer space where we can fully experience God’s love. St Mary’s Church is aiming to be a place where people can find “encouragement, hospitality, companionship, refreshment, nourishment and support for mind, body, and soul” and I strongly believe that the Taekwondo mission has helped provide all of the above.
Up to 10 young people take part at each session and parents get to know each other during a pastoral session run by my wife. News of the sessions has spread by word of mouth and children who don’t normally come to church take part.
Beom-Jin Shin was Assistant Curate at St Mary’s, Banbury at the time this article was written
The most deprived wards in Oxfordshire
by Annabelle Coombs
BRETCH Hill spans two of the most deprived wards in Oxfordshire. Our church centre lies at the heart of this large 1960’s housing estate, and we feel privileged to be able to reach out from here with the Good News about Jesus.
Our small congregation meets on Sundays at 5pm. We have outgrown the church centre and now meet in a nearby family centre. We aim to be informal and accessible to all ages and abilities; we sit around tables and enjoy tea together before a short service which includes a song, Bible teaching and praying together.
Local people joining the church family in recent years have been drawn in through various initiatives. One of these is Open Door, a weekly drop-in coffee morning serving home-made cakes and (our most popular drink) hot chocolate ‘with the works’ (cream and marshmallows!). Those running the group make time to sit and chat, listen and support, and, where appropriate, offer to pray or invite people to our Sunday service.
The social needs on Bretch Hill can sometimes seem very great; people’s lives are often chaotic and troubled, and we cannot ‘fix’ all the problems we encounter. But the God whom we trust is powerfully at work in people’s lives. Individuals in our congregation have recently testified to God’s care and provision despite very hard circumstances – in the words of one man, ‘I wouldn’t be here if Jesus wasn’t in my life’. Annabelle Combes, St Paul’s, Banbury.
A community Christmas bazaar
Members of St Leonard’s Church, Banbury set up for a successful Christmas Bazaar in late November. The Bazaar is one of many community events held in the church throughout the year, including a summer fete and a variety of family fund days. Photo by the Revd Sue Burchell.
War and Peace at Bloxham Faith Fest
by Sarah Meyrick
THE Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature is becoming quite an institution. The idea of Sir Tony Baldry, MP for North Oxfordshire and Second Church Estates Commissioner, the first Festival took place over a weekend in October 2011, at St Mary’s Church.(Sir Tony is pictured right with the Revd Sarah Tillett, promoting the first festival.)
Since then the event has found a sponsor (the Church Times) and a new home (Bloxham School), where the facilities make it possible to run a number of events concurrently. Events at the 2013 Festival ranged from readings and poetry to debate, dance and music, culminating in a Festival Evensong at St Mary’s involving both the church and school choirs.
“We describe it as a literary festival with a theological slant,” said Sarah Meyrick, the Festival Director. “Our mission is to encourage a love of literature as it relates to faith; to bring together authors and those who appreciate their work; and to create a thoughtful and relaxing space in which to consider works of literature and their religious themes.”
Speakers have included P. D. James, Lionel Blue, Wendy Cope, Patrick Gale, Francis Spufford, Paula Gooder, Bishop John, Stephen Cottrell, James Runcie and Keith Ward.
Planning is underway for 30 May-1 June 2014 when the theme will be ‘War and Peace’. Details of the programme will be announced early in the new year on the Festival website.
An annual Fairport Convention
by Hilary Campbell
ONCE a year, in early August, life in the north Oxfordshire village of Cropredy takes on a different form, as it welcomes the thousands of visitors that come (some would call it a pilgrimage) to the folk music festival that is Fairport Cropredy Convention. Out of the close links that two members of the band have with Cropredy, has grown a rich and evolving relationship, with school, parish council, canal community, village organisations and church all involved in offering hospitality of many kinds.
This raises revenue for all, but has the additional benefit of bringing villagers into direct contact with visitors in a serving role. It is for many a positive experience, and encourages and develops an outward looking attitude in the village.
Many church breakfast customers come back year after year, and also take part ina service at the end of the festival. The church is a focal point of activity during the festival with the bells (including the 2007 Fairport Festival Bell that the band helped raise funds for) ringing to open the event, and Fairport starting their set with the song Festival Bell.
It receives many visitors during the weekend, and many more enjoy the peace and tranquility of the churchyard as a place to relax and chat with friends old and new. The festival service on the Sunday has become a highlight of the year, with a wonderfully warm and vibrant atmosphere in church, reflecting the welcome and friendliness of the festival itself.
The Revd Hilary Campbell is Vicar of the Shires’ Edge Benefice which includes St Mary’s, Cropredy.