Revd Geoff’s new Diocesan Synod Role.

Geoff with wife Mary

Geoff with wife Mary

THE Revd Canon Geoff Bayliss is the next Chair of the House of Clergy at the Oxford Diocesan Synod.

Geoff is the Rector of Cowley, which comprises St James and St Francis Churches, both in east Oxford and the Area Dean of Cowley. He takes over from the Revd Sue Booys, the Rector of Dorchester Abbey, in his new synod role.

Born in north London, halfway between Tottenham and Arsenal, Geoff ended up supporting Enfield Town football club. A natural at science and logic-based subjects, and with a passion for the outdoors, Geoff studied ecology at university.

Previous jobs include Sainsbury’s storeman, security guard, greengrocer and working as an outdoor education instructor. He met his wife, Mary, while running an outdoor centre in Wales. Eventually, he trained as a secondary school science teacher, a job he did for 20 years. He has also been a glass fibre boat repairer and a canoe builder.

“Eventually God grabbed me by the scruff of the neck…”

Coming to faith in his mid-20s, Geoff was confirmed in 1987 and rapidly felt a sense of calling to be a vicar. “I didn’t get recommended for training, to begin with, and continued to teach for another 15 years. Eventually, God grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, taking me back to ask the question again. I trained as a self-supporting minister on the East Anglia Ministerial Training Course,” says Geoff.

During this time, Geoff was a faculty manager in an Urban Priority Area secondary school, managing the science and IT departments.
He served his curacy in Essex, and as school got busier, the church got busier. Moving to the Chelmsford Diocese, Geoff quickly became an Area Dean and served on the diocesan synod. He also worked a chief sailing instructor for a Christian charity.

It was Geoff’s experience of Urban Priority Areas, growing up in North London, and teaching in one, that made him feel that Cowley was the right place for him.  “I saw the job in the Church Times and said to God that if he wanted me to apply for it, I would need to wait,” says Geoff, whose dad was dying at the time. Later, after his dad’s death, Geoff picked up the newspaper again, and the job was there.

“I came to Cowley, which is a wonderful place.

“It’s very much like my childhood area except with bigger skies and not so many tall buildings. There are 29,000 people in Cowley. We work in partnership with other food banks, schools, other churches and charities to serve the community.

“I have a passion for growing the Kindom of God in the area and helping other people become the leaders God is calling them to be in the community, for people to find life in all its fullness. I have a passion for church planting. I believe we need to be planting churches and congregations to reach the people we aren’t reaching in the buildings.”

Geoff and his team work in partnership with food banks, schools and other organisations to serve the community. He was involved in setting up the Oxford Winter Night Shelter as part of the original committee. He has researched the accessibility of Church of England liturgies.

His hobbies include gardening, which he says he doesn’t have enough time for, playing the guitar and cooking. “I love cooking for people in the deanery. We do lots of soup and eating together,” he says.

“…have life and have it to the full.”

With extensive experience in parish ministry, various synods and other roles inspired him to stand for Chair of the House of Clergy. “I’ve experienced a whole variety of environments and I’m happy drawing from that. I have experience that may be useful to enable us as Diocesan Synod to help people and communities have life and have it to the full.

“I was standing for the role with colleagues who I have a major respect for, some of them personal friends. I’m privileged to be given the trust of my colleagues to do the best I can to support the Diocese in this role,” he says.

Geoff has two daughters and three grandchildren.