Around the Deaneries: Oxford


THE Oxford Deanery is a varied one with a range of traditions from St Ebbe’s and St Aldate’s at the low church end, through to St Mary Magdalene at the high church end.Deanery Map Oxford for front page

Within those churches there are associated colleges, chaplains, ministries to tourists, students and the homeless. There are parishes that attract 1,000 people every Sunday and those that attract a dozen.

The Revd Mark Butchers, Area Dean, said: “There are rural parishes like Wytham and suburban parishes like Wolvercote and St Margaret’s in Summertown and parishes in city centre ministry. The variety is phenomenal and that presents lots of challenges.”

At a recent deanery meeting the Revd Graham Sykes, Bishop John’s Chaplain and chairman of the Door’s Editorial Support Group, gave a talk on maps of mission. Meanwhile the Revd Jane Sherwood, from St Luke’s, Cold Harbour, presented on the amazing transformation of the building into a community facility. (See the Door, April 2014 for an indepth report on this).

“We had a third presentation about the work in Cutteslowe undertaken by the Cutteslowe Church Partnership. This is a joint partnership between St Peter’s, St Michael’s, St Andrew’s and Summertown URC. One of the things they discussed were the great strides that were made in establishing new work and outreach.”

In Wolvercote itself, where Mark is the Rector, the church is coming to the end of a £700,000 development project to renew the buildings for community use. “We have just come close to finishing the building work. We have a lovely new set of buildings connected to the church and they are being well used by the local community,” says Mark. “We also have the Wolvercote Church Partnership with Wolvercote Baptist and we organised something called the Living Love, Loving Life course which attracted 35 to 40 people. We are hoping to repeat that in the autumn and we are hoping people will say to their friends ‘that was a good course, why not come along.’”

“All deaneries developed a deanery map about 18 months ago and we have set up a communications group to take some of the recommendations forward and as a result we have carved out funding for 12 hours per week for a deanery mission enabler to work with the communications group to take things forward. We got the agreement of every single PCC and I’m delighted abou that,” said Mark.

Enabling mission

by Paula Clifford

Oxford Deanery Mission Enabler. If you think the job title is a mouthful, just imagine how challenging the job itself is. Contrary to what I’ve heard said, it’s not about telling people how to do mission. The clue is in the word “enabler”.

Paula Clifford

Paula Clifford

We all know that the Oxford deanery is rich in resources of all kinds, allowing us to plough our own furrows pretty effectively. We reflect every conceivable church tradition and we rejoice in our differences.

The challenge, I think, is twofold. First, there’s the challenge of communications. All too often we reinvent the wheel, partly because we can, but partly too because we’ve little idea what our near neighbours are up to. So one priority is to set up ways in which information can be shared quickly and easily, through a website and through social media.

Secondly, there’s the challenge of working together. When it comes to mission, some churches are doing pretty well on their own. But we could do more and do it better together: together as Anglicans, together with Christians of other denominations, and of course working alongside our neighbours in Cowley.

Back in the 1980s, the bigger Oxford churches ran a three-term course called Christians in Oxford Lay Training (the COLT course). There were lectures, group work and the experience of going out on mission together to towns and villages far and wide. The course ran for a few years and was attended by people from across the Oxford and Cowley deaneries. Now any one of those organising churches could have put on something good on their own. But they did it together, and as we listened to and learned from one another the course became special, very much more than the sum of its parts.

Enabling mission isn’t always about the big projects. It’s about following our passions more effectively because we are in it together. And above all it’s about offering residents and visitors alike a lively image of the kingdom of God in our city.

The Revd Dr Paula Clifford is Oxford’s new Deanery Mission Enabler.

Free singing lessons

TODDLERS learn music theory at a free music event run by the Revd Sally Welch and Liz Holmes at St Margaret’s Church, Oxford on Saturdays.

Up to 30 children from babies aged less than a year to seven-year-olds are split into two groups, the under threes and the over threes. Sally, who takes the under threes, said: “For the small children we use jigsaws with the first line of a nursery rhyme. They make it up and then sing the low notes and the high notes.”

After an hour of musical theory, the children play while the adults eat cake. “It’s been going for about two-and-a-half years and it attracts people who want to introduce their children to singing. The group happens three times every month, with one Saturday being dedicated to a different event, with coffee, croissants, newspapers and arts for children. “We get people who don’t go to church at all, people from St Margaret’s and different churches.

“It’s not about a religious agenda and the music we use is secular. It’s simply a gift to the community. We just want people to come along and enjoy it,” added Sally.

The Cutteslowe Partnership

CHURCH leaders are looking to the next steps in a successful inter-tradition partnership in north Oxford.2013-02-17 Messy Church Feb 2013 010

The Cutteslowe partnership is an ecumenical group of churches, including St Andrew’s and St Michael and All Angels, both in Summertown, that is currently considering establishing a worshipping community on the Cutteslowe estate.

The Revd Gavin Knight, of St Michael’s, said: “We have different ideas of how this might be achieved but we are listening and working together. In the next few months, St Michael’s will be commissioning a parish audit to examine the areas of greatest need and spiritual deprivation in the parish. We have some very exciting plans but would like to defer these until we are confident that our vision relates to God’s mission in this part of his world.”

St Andrew’s began to work in Cutteslowe 12 years ago, at the invitation of David Trebilcock, a community worker who is now the pastor of Woodstock Road Baptist Church. A restorative justice scheme was among the projects launched. The Revd Andrew Wingfield Digby, Rector of St Andrews, said: “The work has developed over the years and we have always been conscious that for there  to be a long term impact on a very needy community it needs to be made in cooperation with parishes in which the estate lies.”

Three years ago the Cutteslowe Church Partnership was formed which included the three Anglican churches and the Summertown URC. A formal agreement was signed in which we agreed to respect each other’s traditions and seek to work together for the transformation of the community.”

Andrew says: “Of course we have our differences but there is great respect and we are united in our desire to serve a community which has been marginalised and treated unjustly for generations.”

Prayer drumming during Holy Week

PRAYER drumming and a labyrinth were among the attractions at St Mary’s Kildington during Holy Week. Prayer took place every day throughout the week, starting with morning prayer at 9am and ending with Compline at 9pm. The Rector, the Revd Felicity Scroggie said St Mary’s joined forces with Methodists, Baptists, a free church and two other Anglican churches for the event.

“We had prayer stations set up, daily newspapers to encourage people to use them as a daily prayer sheet, had a Taizè service and prayer drumming. One woman said to me she’d love to get into prayer drumming.

“It was the most amazing week. Members of the public came in. One little girl aged seven came with her grandfather. She walked the labyrinth three times and when they left she turned to her grandand and asked if she could go back in because there was so much to do.

“We had a tragic funeral at the start of the week and people asked how we would cope with a prayer event. We said it was okay, because that is what churches do. We said people could light a candle for the young man who died. The family were able to come back and be in the church surrounded by people who were praying, which is exactly what we should be doing as a church.”

Pentecost lunch

The next event will be a Pentecost lunch in the High Street with Christian street theatre, entertainment and family fun. There will be a 10.30am ecumenical Pentecost service at St Mary’s and at noon The Big Lunch Event in the Village centre.







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