Project Manager, Oxford Winter Night Shelter, September-April


Project Manager – Central Oxford

Do you have the passion and skills for helping the homeless people of Oxford?   Do you have the willingness and ability to work with a wide range of churches?  The Oxford Winter Night Shelter (OWNS) is the initiative of a number of Oxford city centre churches to provide temporary overnight accommodation for both men and women who are sleeping rough during the coldest months of the year.  It is now seeking a project manager:

  • £ 25,000 per annum pro rata
  • From September 2018 to mid-April 2019
  • 20 days holiday, pro rata, plus bank holidays
  • Home working and access to central Oxford
  • Responsible to the Board of Trustees of OWNS

OWNS is looking for a candidate who is well organised, an excellent communicator and has the ability to inspire others.  The candidate should be able to think on his/her feet and work well within a team.  He/she should be sympathetic to the Christian values of the project.  This position could be considered as a job share.

The Project Manager will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running of OWNS.   Before the shelters open, this includes ensuring that the shelter venues are fit for purpose, organising the training and rotas of volunteers working at the night shelters.  Once the shelters are open, the Project Manager will be required to liaise with the City Outreach providers and have regular feedback with shift leaders and Trustees.  A key part of the job will be to ensure the appropriate operation of the log book and deal with any last minute adjustments to the rotas.  At the end of the project, the Project Manager will be required to help collate feedback from persons who have come into contact with OWNS.

For more information, please email  to receive a full job description and an application form.

Closing Date:   6 July 2018.  Interview Date: 25 July 2018.

Keeping Christianity’s heritage alive

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by Jo Duckles

TWO major projects are set to keep our region’s rich Christian history and heritage alive for generations to come. Read more

How to plant an olive tree in Palestine


First, dig a hole with a pickaxe or a mattock.  The ground is really full of stones.  Then make it bigger than you estimated!  Put in an olive sapling and firm up the earth around it.  Don’t forget the wooden stake to prop it up and the white plastic sleeve over it all to protect against marauding animals.  Done. And now to the next one, and the next… Read more

Priest on a fork-lift truck


SIXTY years ago an idealistic Oxford graduate clocked on as a fork-lift-truck driver in the Pressed Steel Car Body factory in Cowley. Two years later the Bishop of Oxford ordained him as the Revd Anthony Williamson, pioneering worker-priest. And 57 years on, Canon Tony is still hard at work as one of the ministry team in the Icknield Benefice.

Tony on a tractor

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Foodbank’s anniversary highlights growing poverty



THE Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft will be the guest of honour at the Community Emergency Foodbank’s 10th-anniversary party.

The foodbank supplies emergency food to about 3,000 of the poorest of the poor in Oxford. Claire Harvey, from the foodbank, said: “The reasons why families need food are various and no social services system could be designed that caters for the many disasters that destroy families: for example, CEF has supplied food to people facing the problems caused by desertion, physical abuse, substance abuse, death, gambling, gaps in benefits, and imprisonment.

“CEF is very grateful to the many kind people, companies and churches who give food and financial support so generously and thereby enable CEF’s thirty volunteers to do their valuable work.”

The party, which takes place on Wednesday 11 April, 6-8pm at St Francis Church, Hollow Way, Oxford, (OX3 7JF) is to thank the CEF’s supporters and referrers.

The anniversary reveals the need for emergency supplies in Oxford and comes just months after an investigation by the Door, our diocesan newspaper, revealed how demand for rural foodbanks is soaring. We revealed that the Wallingford Foodbank in Oxfordshire helped 400 people in 2011 but that figure rose to more than 1,000 in 2016 and is expected to increase again. Chiltern Foodbank has centres in Chesham, Wendover, Amersham, and Little Chalfont, with a fifth centre planned in Chalfont St Peter. The number of meals provided increased from 5,787 in 2011 to 17,739 in 2016 and was predicted to rise to 24,000 in 2017. Read the full story here.


Former lap dancing club “redeemed for the Gospel”

A FORMER lap dancing club has been “redeemed for the Gospel” after being leased and renovated by a neighbouring church. Read more

God in the Life Of…


The Revd Dr Guy Harrison tells Jo Duckles about his journey from a job as a maintenance man, through to becoming the Head of Spiritual and Pastoral Care, Consultant in Staff Support and Director of the Oxford Centre for Spirituality & Wellbeing (OCSW) within an NHS trust covering five counties and employing 6,300 staff.

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Dealing with death: busting the last taboo


A new resource aimed at helping children handle death and dying has been produced by the team at Oxford’s Sobell House Hospice.

Christ Church Oxford’s new music man


CHRIST Church Oxford and the Faculty of Music at Oxford University are delighted to announce the appointment of Steven Grahl as the new organist at Christ Church Cathedral.

Read more

Tough Talk: Engaging our children with life’s most difficult questions


Tough Talk is an opportunity for parents, carers, and teachers to hear from expert voices on important issues that people find most difficult to talk about as they are raising children.

The Revd Jarred Mercer, assistant curate at St Mary Magdalen, Oxford, said:  “From sexuality, to death, to racism and inequality, we want our children to feel comfortable being open with us about life’s toughest questions, we want our relationships with them to grow deeper, and most of all we want them to develop into responsible, loving people who can face both the everyday situations of normal life and the intense struggles that might come their way.

“This does not happen by accident but requires us to be prepared and intentional. Tough Talk offers free evenings for parents, carers, and teachers to come together in a relaxed and open environment to discover ways to engage our children with these difficult topics with purpose and confidence. At each meeting we will listen to an expert on the given topic, ask questions and get feedback on our own experiences, and have guided discussion relevant to our children’s ages and understanding.”

The first Tough Talk event is Monday 25 September, 7.30pm at North Hinksey Primary School. Nick Luxmoore will help us think about how to communicate with our children on the topic of ‘sex and sexuality’. Nick is a child psychotherapist who has decades of experience in teaching parents, carers, and teachers how to best discuss issues such as these with children, and is the author of 10 books in this area.

Come along as we learn to better lead our children with purpose and confidence. There will be wine and refreshment offered from 7.15pm. Contact Jarred Mercer ( for more information.

Canon Wilfrid Robert Francis Browning


A MEMORIAL service for Canon Wilfrid Browning, who sadly died on 23rd February, aged 98, will take place at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford on Saturday 27th May at 3pm.

Obituary by the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy

Many of post-war generation believed that it was axiomatic that at the heart of English life was the parochial system of the Church of England, and the only way to safeguard it, was the provision of a sufficient number of full-time priests.

Canon Wilfrid Browning during a visit on his bike to what used to be Diocesan Church House in North Hinksey.

Wilfrid Browning was in formation during this period, and with a keen mind and strong sense of mission, brought this insight with him when he was appointed Diocesan Director of Education and tutor at Cuddesdon Theological College in 1965.

Here, he became strongly influenced by Professor Owen Chadwick, one of the distinguished brothers Professor Henry Chadwick, who was made Dean of Christ Church in 1969. Owen Chadwick argued that one of the failures of the parochial system was that it did not penetrate the place of work.

‘The church must accept the factory as a new source of community, and use its sense of fellowship in creating a Christian fellowship. Therefore we must have priests who are factory workers; who do not in the first instance make any attempt to associate the workers with the parish church, but who gather round them a Christian fellowship within the working community.  We must have our altar in the house of one of the workmen, and let that be the first centre of the new Christian community.’ (A paper by Owen Chadwick re-printed in ‘Tentmaking’ Perspectives on Self -Supporting Ministry, edited by M. M. Francis and L. J Francis, Gracewing, 1998: pp. 81-90).

Wilfrid Browning was convinced by this approach, and visited Pontigny, the seminary of the French worker-priest movement, to explore how they went about training such priests. He set up a course for men experienced in the world of work, who would meet one evening each week at St Stephen’s House, supplemented by a number of residential weekends each term, to prepare them for ministry in the place of work, as auxiliaries to the parochial clergy.

As this ‘NSM Scheme’ (as it was titled) developed, Browning established a link with the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, which advised on the structure of the course, and offered accreditation.

In the 1980’s with commendable foresight, he recruited women as well, some of whom eventually were among the first to be ordained to the diaconate and then priesthood.  The numbers at any one time were restricted to thirty.

He was a formidable presence in the Diocese and during Sir Henry Chadwick’s time as Dean, a proposal was considered that a new residential Canonry be established to increase links between the Diocese and its Cathedral Church, which in its unique dual role was not able properly to serve the needs of the post-war generation. Wilfrid Browning was the obvious person for the post; and the governing body approved his nomination. It was the beginning of a fruitful development in the attempt by the House to combine its roles as College Chapel, while being a focus and resource for the people of the Diocese; a project that continues to this day.

In 2008 Rowan Williams, who had been appointed Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Christ Church in 1986 at the end of Wilfrid’s ministry, honoured him with the Cross of St Augustine, which was in his gift as Archbishop of Canterbury.  It was given in recognition of his ‘outstanding service to the Church of England.’

In his retirement Wilfrid continued to minister and preach, offering friendship to his successor, as the old NSM course transformed into the Oxford Ministry Course and then the St Albans and Oxford Ministry Course, becoming an alternative to residential training rather than a supplement. It was a development of which he never really approved, and he was delighted when in the new millennium, responsibility for the course was located at Cuddesdon.

It was a mark of his modesty that for the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, he invited his friends and former students to the church in Botley where he was currently assisting.  He presided and preached to the affectionate delight of the large congregation.

It is fitting that his contribution to the Church should now be recognised by the House which provided the setting for such an important part of his significant ministry.

A Requiem Eucharist and thanksgiving for Canon Wilfred’s life took place in Bexhill-on-Sea on March 15.

Ministry for the Deaf

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The Door tells the stories of some of those involved with churches that cater specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing in the Thames Valley.
by the Revd Ben Whitaker

Martha’s Vineyard stands out in Deaf History. Through a mutation of a recessive gene brought about by inbreeding, a form of hereditary deafness existed for 250 years in this place in Massachusetts in the United States, following the arrival of the first deaf settlers in the 1690s.

Scarcely a family was unaffected and one in four people were deaf. In response to this, the entire community learnt sign language and there was a free and complete communication between hearing and deaf people. Deaf people were scarcely seen as deaf. The writer Oliver Sachs gave his impressions of Martha’s Vineyard when he visited the island: “My first sight of this indeed was unforgettable. I drove up to the old general store in West Tisbury on a Sunday morning and saw half a dozen people gossiping together on the porch. They could have been any old folks talking together – until suddenly they all dropped into sign. They signed for a minute, laughed, then dropped back into speech.”

In sharp contrast to those people in Martha’s Vineyard, sign language users in this country who are deaf, are largely separate from the hearing world. There is very little of the integration which Sachs describes. British Sign Language is a language which is clear and visual so most appropriate for deaf people. Church members have been using and teaching BSL for many years, believing that everyone is a child of God and should have access to the Gospel and to the ministry of the Church. Many clergy, including myself, learnt sign from deaf people themselves.

I have been a Chaplain with deaf and hard of hearing people for 21 years. Before then I worked in two parishes in different parts of the country. What drew me to deaf chaplaincy was that it was different to other forms of ministry I had experienced. I relished the challenge of learning a new language, and getting to know deaf people, to see their slant on the world. It has been a challenging and deeply rewarding experience. At the moment I work part time for the Oxford Diocesan Council for the Deaf. This is a charity and works with deaf and hard of hearing people to meet their spiritual, social and general needs, and to help give them a voice in the Church and in society.

The work I do is not of course limited to sign language users. There are many more who experience hearing loss who lip read to a greater or lesser extent. Some lip read as an alternative to BSL. These people may be profoundly deaf and manage to integrate into the hearing world. Others experience hearing loss due to their age.

Some people use hearing aids which are a great help. However their usefulness depends on the degree of hearing loss. They do not, for instance, help the user detect the direction of a particular noise. And they not only amplify particular sounds but all sounds around the user so that in large gatherings, as with many church meetings and services, holding conversations and hearing people properly can be difficult. Another barrier to using hearing aids is the perception that they are something to be ashamed about. Some people just like to complain that “people are mumbling” and cope as best they can.

There are an estimated 2,000 people in the Oxford Diocese with a total or severe hearing loss, and up to 70 of these are currently active members of the deaf worshipping communities. One in seven members of the population are reckoned to have a significant hearing loss, and their needs and potential contribution are not generally recognised in the hearing communities.

I work within a team of lay and ordained persons. And I work across the Diocese. In the same way as parochial clergy have oversight over people in a particular geographical area, so I think of myself as having concern for deaf and hard of hearing people who live in the Oxford Diocese. I take services in BSL, and support deaf people through pastoral problems. I take funerals in BSL, as well as being with deaf people at happier occasions like baptisms and weddings.
I would very much like to encourage clergy to get involved in the Deaf Church, to come and work with us, to get involved in this unique form of ministry.

The Revd Ben Whitaker is a part-time Chaplain to the Oxford Deaf Church.

Being part of a church signing team

George Chapman from Milton Keynes describes his journey from college to work and how he enjoys volunteering as part of the BSL team at the Cross & Stable Church.

George signs at a wedding at his church.

I’m 23 and live with with my parents. I have a younger brother and younger sister. I spent 10 years in a mainstream school, learning English, Maths, History and Geography as well as taking special lessons in BSL which I passed at Level 1 and 2. I enjoyed learning new things and I made a lot of deaf friends, and some hearing friends as well. I wasn’t very happy after my move to secondary school but I concentrated on my lessons as I wanted to make progress and get ready for my future.

I was at Milton Keynes College for about four-and-a-half years. In the first two years I did English and Maths and Life Skills (like money and community and how to get a job). Then I moved on to two years doing IT. That was excellent. I really improved. I did several work experience placements while at school and college: Newport Pagnell Library and the Co-op in Newport Pagnell, and an office work placement at the college. They helped me to learn how businesses work and to decide what job I’d like to do.

When I left college I started looking for work. It took me about a year. I did volunteering while I was looking, helping at signing classes and at the Job Centre. I did work experience at Morrisons and learned about health and safety and how a supermarket works. Then the Shaw Trust helped me get a job in Sainsbury’s café. That’s a real-life job and it’s been brilliant for me. I was nominated for a ‘Best Colleague’ award and while I didn’t win the national prize, I enjoyed the experience of the award ceremony in London in February.

I help at Cross & Stable Church, an ecumenical Church in Milton Keynes, as part of the signing team. I sign hymns and readings as well as the Lord’s Prayer and the responses. At Christmas I will be doing carols and I’ll help people feel welcome.
I first came to the church when I was young, but I got involved again about four years ago when Sue Baines (a BSL teacher) told me about the signing team and persuaded me to join. I love it.

In the past I’ve been part of a drama club. I was involved for 10 years. I’ve done sign acting as well as BSL interpreting for the Christmas panto. There were some changes at the club and since starting work I’ve needed to concentrate on that, plus saving money and hopefully getting ready for living independently.
At times I find it hard to join in the deaf community, as some deaf events happen in work time and that takes priority. These days I’m concentrating on work, and enjoying being part of the signing team at Cross & Stable.

No limitations for Elizabeth

Elizabeth Payne is deaf but refuses to be limited by other people’s ideas about what she can acheive.

Elizabet Payne

Elizabeth is a member of the Cross & Stable Church, Downs Barn in Milton Keynes, which she attends with her husband Les. She was born and grew up in Kenya, part of a big family, with three brothers and sisters and lots of half-brothers and half-sisters.

Elizabeth learned to sign at her primary school, which was a boarding school for the deaf started originally by Dutch missionaries and an hour’s journey from home. Kenyan sign language has a number of differences from BSL. The alphabet, for instance, is in a one-handed, American style. Elizabeth is multilingual in all sorts of ways, including signing.

Her secondary education was at a deaf vocational school where Elizabeth did a nursing and caring course connected to a local hospital. There she met Les, who came from England to work as a volunteer teacher at a boys’ polytechnic. One of his friends was a volunteer matron at the hospital, and Les and Elizabeth met at a birthday party.
They began their married life in Kenya, but moved to England where their children, Christopher and Joanne, were born. Chris is in the throes of university applications and hopes to do Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford. Joanne is in Year 9 and is starting her GCSEs. They are both hearing but good signers. “Joanne learned to sign very young,” says Elizabeth. “One of her first signs was ‘ice-cream’.”

Elizabeth is a determined learner. When she told her family in Kenya she wanted to be a copy typist, they said, “You can’t do that”, but she points out, “I went to a hearing teaching college and succeeded in qualifying.”

Here in England she has learned to swim and to cycle, and passed her driving test on her first attempt in 2005. Her biggest driving challenge was to track down a driving instructor willing to take a deaf pupil. Elizabeth’s priority is her home and family, but she likes to be busy and in the mornings and evenings she works as a cleaner. She enjoys opportunities to meet up with deaf friends and has a number of craft skills. She was once part of a deaf sewing group.

It was a woman at Homestart that told Elizabeth about the Cross & Stable Church and the signed services there when Chris was a toddler. Like many mums, Elizabeth has known the isolation of caring for infants at home while her partner is having to be out at work. But she still describes one of her greatest joys as family and seeing the children grow up and thrive.

Being deaf has had its frustrations, like people who tell her she can’t do things which she knows she can, or the lack of understanding by Government departments at times (DVLA included) but, says Elizabeth, there are advantages like being able to switch off sometimes.

And new technologies can be a great help in communicating with friends around the world – by text, Skype or Facebook. They’ve helped Elizabeth to keep in touch with her oldest son Kenneth, who’s doing development studies at university in Nairobi, and catch up with friends in Germany and the USA. For Elizabeth it’s ‘total communication’. She is used to living with hearing people and is a good lip-reader, but she loves the chance to be part of a signing community.

Pat Chandler’s story

I am in my 60s and live in Slough.  I am now retired, but worked for more than 25 years with disabled people, helping them on work placements, teaching them how to use the bus, how to shop, how to find work and other ‘ordinary’ life skills. Now retired, I am doing voluntary work in Slough, and volunteer at Oxfam.  My hobbies are doing cross-words, computer games, and learning about different religions from documentaries. I also like to travel.

I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church and I regularly worship at the monthly Cox Green Deaf Church Service run by ODCD.  My local Catholic Church has a link with the Church of England. The reason I come to the Deaf Church, is because it is easier, because it is in the sign language I understand.  The Catholic Church only gives services in spoken English, with no interpreter, but I have very little hearing, and so I do not know what they are saying, especially in the sermon. I just recite the rosary to avoid daydreaming. I did have a friend who interpreted a little bit, but she died some years ago, and no one else is available.  I have asked but my local church only provide signing during the mass. There is no sign language when the mass is over. That is why I like to come to the Deaf Church. All of the service and the preaching is signed in BSL, and I can get a full picture of what the priest or lay preacher is signing in the sermon.

My Christian faith means a lot.  When I go to church, I feel an inner peace within me.  I understand God better every time that I come to Deaf Church, because I can understand better: it helps me to improve and gives me strength and confidence.  I feel much better when I come to Deaf Church: it is really good.

I would like a chaplain who could sign BSL, and make me feel comfortable without worrying about being a Catholic, but would accept me as I am, so I could come and take communion.

I would like to say to other Christians, “Respect each other, respect that we’re all one church.  Whether we’re Jewish, Hindu, Catholic, Church of England, we are all equal.  The church should welcome anybody.  If they believe in God, that’s fine, we’re all equal.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t believe in God, as they are all welcome to God.”

Ken Dyson’s story:

I retired six years ago, and now volunteer for church visiting, and I am a Licensed Lay Minister with the Oxford Deaf Church. I am also a member of the executive committee of the Reading Deaf Centre, and its secretary.

 My main hobbies are sailing and cycling. I have two adult children with three grandchildren between them.  They live between North Oxfordshire and Essex, so living in Reading, I have to do a lot of driving backwards and forwards, visiting. Within the deaf community, I enjoy all the talking we do in our own sign language: sign language is good for telling stories, and they can be very funny. The difficulties of being deaf are those of communication.  For example, when driving to north Oxfordshire, I stopped off for food, and was asked what I wanted, but because of the background noise, people could not hear me, and I could not speak above the noise.

As a Christian, I believe that my life comes from God. I owe God everything, and I have to give something back: it saved me from depression when I was young, so it is important to me. I would like the hearing church to take more interest in the deaf church. Before, we tried to go to a hearing church, but we stopped, because we could not understand what was being said.

 I would like to see more chaplains to the deaf, especially chaplains who are deaf themselves. We need a chaplain who would welcome young deaf people and bring them in to church.

I also believe that a lot of people don’t understand what Jesus said. They need more education and the to read about him for themselves. I recently heard some deaf people arguing over whether or not Jesus was a Jew. Religious education, both in deaf and hearing schools is declining and this is a problem deaf churches and deaf schools need to address.

What can your church do?

Essential for all churches
• A high quality sound system of microphones and loudspeakers to be provided throughout the worship area; ideally bring in a sound engineer to advise you.
• A hearing loop available throughout the church worship area and meeting rooms. (ODCD and other charities can often provide contributions towards the cost.)
• A clear view of the worship leader and preacher.
• Good lighting, falling on the worship leader and preacher.
• A written service with clear responses, produced either clearly on paper, or visible onscreen.

Good to have
• Intercessions: written or on screen.
• Sermon: written and full text or summary points on screen.
• The provision of monitors in church “blind spots” such as behind pillars or in overflow rooms or chapel areas so that the worship leaders or preacher may be seen.
• A high quality sound system of microphones and loudspeakers to be provided in all meeting rooms.
• Avoid speaking over music.

Ideal, in addition to the above
• To provide a BSL interpreter within sight of the worship leader/preacher during services, and at meetings, especially public meetings.
• When available, provision of speech to text software projected onto a visible screen.

And now…
If your church already provides some or all of these facilities, let ODCD know so they can be added to the list of ‘deaf friendly churches’ on the website. Email: