Resources for Parishes

Sermons you can use, our peer learning group, FAQs and funding help

These sermons from our area bishops, archdeacons and associate archdeacons are for parishes to slot into their online services. We also have video resources from the bishops, along with Come and See materials, that can be used in online services and small groups.

Please note that sermons are for parish/benefice use only and provided ‘as is’. The films must not be cut or edited in any way, except to trim the ‘in’ and ‘out’ points of each film so the movements to switch on and off the camera are not broadcast.

Links (in red, below) will be posted here as soon as each sermon is ready (we aim for Wednesday each week), with an announcement posted in our peer learning Facebook group.

To view a sermon, click a red link below and a player will open. To download the file direct to your downloads folder, click the download link. Sermon text is provided where available as a separate link. If you get stuck, please email communications@oxford.anglican.org or post a message on the Facebook group.

HRH Duke of Edinburgh

Updated guidance and resources for parishes/benefices in the Diocese of Oxford was sent to clergy, wardens, PCC secretaries and parish administrators on 10 April.

Come and See resources

New – Give Hope

We’re helping to combat misinformation and bust myths by offering accurate information and advice about the vaccine as part of the Give Hope campaign. Downloadable short films suitable for use in online services.

Living well in these times and care for creation films

The following films from Bishop Steven and Bishop Olivia can be used at any time

  • A short film from Bishop Steven suitable as a pre- or post-service message – Watch | Download | Resource page
  • Four short films on the theology of care for creation from Bishop Olivia. Suitable for a teaching slot or small group use – Watch | Download One, Two, Three, Four

Schedule of sermons

2021

  • Easter Day – The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford: Watch | Download | Text
  • Palm Sunday – 28 March – the Revd Canon Sally Lodge: Download only
  • Passiontide – 21 March – the Venerable Jonathan Chaffey, Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text
  • Lent 4 or Mothering Sunday – 14 March – Revd Liz Jackson, Associate Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text
  • Lent 3 – 7 March – the Venerable Judy French, Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text
  • Lent 2 – 28 February – Revd Chris Bull, Associate Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text
  • First Sunday of Lent – 21 February – the Venerable Jonathan Chaffey, Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text
  • Sunday before Lent – 14 February – Revd Chris Bull, Associate Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text 
  • Second Sunday before Lent – 7 February – Revd David Tyler, Associate Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text
  • Presentation of Christ in the Temple – 31 January – Revd Paul Cowan, Chaplain to the Bishop of Oxford: Watch | Download | Text
  • Epiphany 3 – 24 January – Revd Liz Jackson, Associate Archdeacon: Watch | Download | Text

2020

Peer learning group

We’ve set up a private Facebook group for anyone who is directly involved in organising and running online church services (recorded and streamed). It’s a place to pose questions and support others.

The Church of England has put together this helpful beginners guide to streaming.

FAQs

For churches who are just getting started with film, perhaps start with a simple video of someone reading out this week’s prayers or readings. Maybe a message from the vicar, to say hello and to explain how the church is continuing to function. Remember, online worship doesn’t just have to fall to the ordained clergy – the church needs everyone’s gifts to flourish, particularly at this time. Some more ideas include:

  • A sermon with an opportunity for discussion afterwards
  • A thought for the day from the vicar or a member of the church
  • A daily prayer
  • An update or a good news story
  • ‘Notices’ – read out the week’s notices and ask everyone to share their own news in the comment.

You may wish to live-stream if you want to interact with viewers in real time – for example, a discussion period after a sermon or a Q&A with a guest speaker. This can help nurture a sense of community and involvement. Live-streaming can also be quicker and may feel more authentic – when editing a pre-recorded service, it can be tempting to edit for hours to reach ‘perfection.’ Live-streaming is also useful for time-sensitive or special events, or example, a minute’s silence together.

The safer alternative to live-streaming – particularly for churches that are new to making videos in general – is to pre-record your worship/prayers/reflection and to upload your video in your own time. This offers a more inclusive opportunity to add subtitles to your video, making it more accessible for many more viewers. It means you can make edits. You can trim out the long beginning section where you are recording, but nothing is happening on screen, and it gives you an opportunity to trouble-shoot issues as you go.

Crucially with online video, we know that people need to be interested within three seconds to decide whether they will keep watching. If all they see is an empty chair, while someone fiddles with the angle the camera is propped up at – it’s unlikely that they will stick with you! Another feature on Facebook and YouTube is the option to Premiere your video. If you choose this option, the video will produce a post to let your followers know when the video will be premiering and then it will be published ‘as live’ and people can follow along with your pre-recorded service in real-time.

It’s important not to rush into putting a video online if you’ve never done it before, or feel pressure to do so. While this is an excellent time to experiment and see what your phone is capable of, be aware that too much poor-quality content from your church’s account could lead to you losing followers, rather than gaining and nourishing them.

There is so much content out there already. So, we are encouraging churches to ‘buddy up’ with another parish doing live and pre-recorded video well, and ask to share their worship and prayer videos until they are ready to share videos themselves. Perhaps this will lead to the fruitful sharing of resources between churches in the future!

The Rama Vocal centre in Denmark has produced a short film about the benefits of switching to original sound in Zoom. The setting removes speech codecs and the difference it makes to the quality of audio for worship is incredible.

Have you listened to the online Hallejulah Chorus from St Nicholas Taplow? It was fantastic – as are these recordings from Taplow.  So, the churchwarden Tony Bridge has put together these guidelines for how to do it. 

It was a bit of a journey getting the video done – I’m a professional sound editor, so I’m very used to audio software, but a novice at video and it was a steep learning curve! Plus, I was up against the deadline of Easter Sunday – so there’s a lot of rough edges, which I’m sure will get smoother over the coming weeks!

First, you need your backing track, which your singers will play on their phone, using earpieces, as we want to record just their voices at this point. If you’re doing an a cappella thing, then I guess a piano guide track is going to be useful. The singers record their video onto a second device with a camera, could be a laptop or iPad, singing along to the track. What comes out is just their voice, with no track.

Then everyone sends that video to the person who will put the videos together (see later for methods of transmission), syncing them all up to the original piano track. What I use for video editing is Cyberlink’s PowerDirector (around £100) and Adobe Premiere Pro (£20 per month) on PC. If you have a Mac, the one to go for is Final Cut Pro.

The main thing for the video editor to concentrate on at the start is planning. First, get everyone to record in the same orientation, either landscape or portrait, but they should be the same. In the Hallelujah, I didn’t think of that until later. The screen looks a bit random and haphazard now, with everyone at different sizes. I prefer landscape; it’s easier to make a nice layout with that. In all these video editors, you can use a convenient grid, so that you can place each video neatly. Look for the parameters Scale (to shrink each video down in size) and Position (to place each video around the screen). You might also want to use Crop.

Video is very resource-intensive. Although these programs promise up to 100 video tracks, this will depend on the power of your computer. Late in the process, I realised that I should make up the video in small chunks, sopranos only, make a finished video of just those, then move on to the altos, finalise them, and so on. Finally, bring all those chunks together as finished videos, and the computer will find it much easier to cope. This is where the planning comes in because you have to make sure that all the videos will be visible in the final assembly, not covering each other up!

Then there’s the sound! Because everyone is on their own, singing in front of their PC/iPad, the final result will have all the voices coming out of the middle, and the sound will be muddled up.

PowerDirector is weak in the sound department and doesn’t let you ‘spread’ the sound out (though they also make a companion program called AudioDirector, which does). I ended up stripping the audio from each video and treating the music in my audio editing software (which cost several thousand pounds a few years ago) and sending that back to PowerDirector. It’s still not ideal, but now you can hear individual voices coming from different ‘places’. Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro are much more powerful in mixing audio, as in other departments.

Then you’ve got to get everyone comfortable with working with WeTransfer.com (which is the easiest for novice tech-users – simply go to the website and upload your file…), Dropbox or Google Drive. Video files will be too ‘heavy’ to send via normal emailing, and you’ll need these solutions to receive all the files. I found some people just gave up because of all the technical faff, and I spent several hours on the phone coaxing them along and easing them through the processes involved.

Phew! Sorry to go off on a geek rant, you’ve probably gone to sleep by now! But I wish someone had told me before I started about some of the pitfalls. But if you can work through all this, it’s great when the final result comes out! I’m already working on the next one. Once you’ve got an idea of some of the pitfalls (I’m sure there will be more ahead!) things become more fun and rewarding.

Funding for internet connection and live-streaming kits

With many more churches live streaming services from within the church building the need for internet connectivity and Wi-Fi is greater than ever before. We have recently received a generous donation from a private donor for the purpose of offering grants of up to £1,000 for churches investing in bringing internet into their church building in preparation for live streaming. We are also able to provide funds for churches wishing to purchase a livestreaming kit.

Please see our fundraising page for more information.

Other resources

The Church of England’s A Church Near You hub has lots of helpful resources too, from hymns and stock photography to editable church graphics.