Bishop Steven travelled to the Aylesbury Deanery on Wednesday 15 June, in the latest in a series of deanery visits.
The day started with a Eucharist service at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Bedgrove, in which the Bishop of Oxford preached to a congregation of local clergy.
Speaking on the story of Elijah in 1 Kings, Bishop Steven praised the work of church leaders throughout the pandemic and encouraged them to see this period as one of spiritual renewal - a reaction not to any personal failings, but to the demands of the time we now live in - echoing sentiments from the recent Clergy Conference.
In an extended time of listening and sharing, deanery clergy shared lunch and had the opportunity to speak to Bishop Steven about the highs and lows of ministry in recent times. The cost of living crisis was high up on many people's agendas. One member of clergy who works for an ethical credit union shared that the crisis is impacting far more people than most realise. Social Justice Adviser to the diocese Hannah Ling confirmed that it was a high priority for the diocese in its ongoing commitment to challenging poverty and inequality.
Following lunch, Bishop Steven visited Brill windmill, where pupils from Brill Church of England School put on an assembly. As everyone enjoyed the spring weather, the children sang a song they had written with the help of one of the local vicars - a highlight of the day for all. Based on their school motto, "With the Wind in our Sails 'We Shall Live Life in all its Fullness' - John 10:10", the song was an uplifting and positive message to the parents and guests watching.
Next up was a visit to the bakery in Long Crendon, where the Bishop was treated to scones in the garden as he chatted with the cafe owners. The Stables at Long Crendon Manor is home to an artisan bakery, farm shop and cafe, which all use locally sourced produce - an important move in tackling the climate crisis, as Bishop Steven heard in a previous Deanery visit to the FarmED site near Chipping Norton. The bakery's surplus food is sent to two local food banks, including the Trussel Trust food bank in Aylesbury, which served over 64,000 meals between 2021 and 2022.
At St Mary’s, Princes Risborough, Bishop Steven shared a meal with local lay leaders, before a wider evening with laity from across the deanery. After a short act of worship led by the Revd David Williams, the floor was opened and people posed questions to the bishop before he departed home.
The Bishop of Oxford is nearing the end of his Deanery visits now, with trips to Mursley, Newport, Buckingham, Claydon and Burnham & Slough remaining over the next few weeks. Catch up on previous visits and save the date for the last few.