On Tuesday 5 July, Bishop Steven joined clergy, lay leaders and school children in the Oxford Deanery.
The day started with a Eucharist for clergy, led by the Revd Hannah Cartwright, at St Mary the Virgin Church, with the backdrop of the current Gaia Earth art installation. Bishop Steven shared a message from the story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3 and the way it illustrates God working to call us and rekindle us.
“God works in unexpected ways to set us, as Gods people, on fire again so we might draw others to the fire…he works with our own personalities and gifts to draw in each of us the characteristics of Christ.”
Praising clergy for their hard work during the pandemic and recognised that it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by events happening across the world, Bishop Steven encouraged them to seek fresh encounters with God. He prompted the clergy to listen to God’s voice and his calling to have hearts set on fire by God’s love.
Over lunch, clergy were invited to share their honest experiences and reflections of life and ministry in the different stages of the pandemic. Clergy spoke about the need to adapt to new patterns of life, a sense of uncertainty still present, and the value of small groups in continuing discipleship among their congregation during the pandemic. The clergy said they continued looking for hopeful and encouraging signs of where God is working in their communities.
St Barnabas School
The first community visit of the day saw Bishop Steven travel to St Barnabas CE Primary School in Jericho. Children from different year groups gathered to ask Bishop Steven questions about being a bishop including his favourite part of the job, how he became a bishop, and even his favourite football team. The children listened as Bishop Steven shared the story of when he became the Bishop of Oxford and were very excited to hear that he has met the Queen several times.
The last stop of the afternoon was to Cutteslowe Primary School to visit a Stay and Play initiative in partnership with Cutteslowe Community Centre as part of a national Safer Streets initiative. Stay and Play is a weekly drop-in for parents, grandparents, and carers and their children under 5 as well as a free afterschool play time at the school.
Bishop Steven met school Cutteslowe Community Centre staff who oversee the running of the Stay and Play initiative serving a community where 20% of the children are living in poverty. Bishop Steven even had to chance to have a go on the bike-powered milkshake machine!
The Revd Tom Murray, curate and leader of the Cutteslowe Church, part of the St Andrew’s Parish, and one of two Bishops Mission Orders in the diocese, showed Bishop Steven around the school which is home for the church and its Sunday worship. The church serves an area of new housing within the parishes of Wolvercote and Summertown.
An evening with lay leaders
After joining lay leaders for an evening meal and discussion time, Bishop Steven travelled to St Michael & All Angels Church, Summertown for a time of worship and Q&A.
Bishop Steven is nearing the end of his deanery visits around the diocese, read all of the stories so far and find out where he is going next.