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Bishop welcomes a Manifesto to Strengthen Families

THE Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft,  has welcomed the Manifesto to Strengthen Families.

In a speech to the House of Lords yesterday (Thursday November 2) he said: “I commend the vision of a government focussed on supporting families.  The default in our culture is a greater focus on individuals in law and public policy.  Yet we all exist as part of diverse families and networks of relationships: a fundamental insight of Christian tradition.  These families are the cornerstone of our well being and the common good.”

The manifesto was produced by Conservative MPs and Peers to help support the Government in helping strengthen families which they believe form the bedrock of a healthy society. Bishop Steven told the Lords of how the charity Parents and Children Together (PACT) was founded by the Diocese in 1911 and works to build and strengthen families.

“Last year, as part of PACT’s work we placed 87 adopted children in families and approved 49 families to adopt. Each extra family approved to adopt adds over £1.1 million in value to society,” he said. Bishop Steven also cited the way the Diocese worked to save children’s centres in Oxfordshire. “Two years ago Oxfordshire County Council had to cut its funding to its 43 Children’s Centres. All but eight were in danger which would have been an immense loss to local communities. The Counc

 

The Rt Revd Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford

il worked with the churches and voluntary sector.  There has been a tremendous response. Thanks to the power of working together, 38 will remain open.

 

“Funding to these ventures can be modest but it needs to be consistent. The staccato cycle of new funding followed by funding cuts, new initiatives starting then ending prematurely halts improving outcomes for the very families we seek to support.”

For a full transcript of Bishop Steven’s Lords speech click here. 

“Our concrete cows are famous…”

Bishop Steven reflects on his visit to the Diocese of Oxford’s largest centre of population.

Feeding the donkeys with Bishop Colin and Joel, 12 from Oxford, at Pennyhooks Farm in Shrivenham. Photo: Charles Chadwick.

Christ the Cornerstone Church, Milton Keynes. Photo: Paul Cowan

At Summerfield School, Milton Keynes. Photo: Paul Cowan

From left, at Pennyhook’s Farm, Marie Read, staff support worker, Bishop Steven, Joel, Bishop Colin, Lydia Otter, on of the farm’s owners, the Revd David Williams, Area Dean, Jeremy Twynham, the Revd Richard Hancock, Vicar of Shrivenham, Sue North and Richard Hurford. Photo: Charles Chadwick.

With Amanda Hough, the headteacher and children from St Luke’s CE Primary School in Maidenhead. Photo: Nicholas Cheeseman.

Milton Keynes’ famous concrete cows

Just a few days after the terrorist attack in Manchester, I spent a day in Milton Keynes. One of the community visits was to Summerfield, a community school with an amazing blend of ethnic backgrounds and faiths among its pupils. I went to Summerfield’s to launch a competition for pupils across the city to design a poster to combat hate crime. The competition is arranged by Citizens MK sponsored by the local bus company and by the Open University.

I was there with representatives of the local mosques and churches, the bus company and the OU. The winning posters will be in an exhibition next month and the best ones will be on the sides of the buses over the next few months. Summerfield is the kind of school community and the poster campaign is the kind of project which will build a healthy coherent society for the future.

While we were there as guests and visitors the children sang a song, composed by one of school staff. It was set to the tune of the 1985 hit by Starship We built this city on rock and roll (once voted the worst rock song of all time by Blender magazine). The song reviews the remarkable history of MK: 50 years old this year and Britain’s fastest growing community: “Our concrete cows are famous…..We built this city called Milton Keynes”.

The MK story is a remarkable one. Fifty years ago, the population was just 30,000. Today it’s 267,000. That makes MK the largest centre of population by far in the Diocese of Oxford (Oxford itself is 159,000; Reading is 156,000 and Slough is 161,000). The city will continue to grow. Everywhere in the Diocese there are large new housing estates but in MK the population is set to rise to 309,000 by 2027 and 400,000 by 2050. MK is at the centre of the Oxford-Cambridge economic arc; a centre for the advanced technology economy and of higher education. The city is applying to be Capital of Culture in 2023.

The children of Summerfield School were immensely proud of their city. So is everyone else I’ve met who lives there. I came away strengthened in my view that MK is a key part of the Diocese of Oxford: we need a greater awareness of the city in all we do together. There is great work going on across the churches to build a great city, to work with the poorest and to plant new churches. But there is more that needs to be done to keep pace with the growth and change taking place.

I have now visited nearly every Deanery: this week it was Maidenhead and Windsor then Vale of the White Horse. Reading is still to come this month. The welcome everywhere continues to be amazing and there are good things to see in every place. Thank you.

Bishop Steven’s Address to Synod

Listen to Bishop Steven’s presidential address to Diocesan Synod, full text also available on Bishop Steven’s Blog.

A Year with Bishop Steven

Here is a selection of the photographs from Bishop Steven’s tour of the Diocese.

Visit to the Witney Deanery on 25 January 2017

Claydon Deanery visit on 24 January 2017:

Buckingham Deanery visit on 12 January 2017:

Bracknell Deanery visit on 28 February 2017:

Chipping Norton Deanery visit on 2 March 2017:

Hear a Christmas message from Bishop Steven

Watch Bishop Steven’s inauguration online

THE service to mark the inauguration of Bishop Steven’s ministry as the Bishop of Oxford will be webcast from the Cathedral so that as many people as possible across the Diocese can watch.

The Cathedral – uniquely in the Church of England also a college chapel of Oxford University – is relatively small, given the size of the Diocese, which means that invitations are limited to a set number of ticket holders. Among the congregation will be representatives of the civic life of the three counties, as well as Bishop Steven’s friends, family and colleagues from the Sheffield Diocese.

Senior clergy from each of the three overseas dioceses linked to the Diocese of Oxford will take part in the service. The Rt Revd Pushpalalitha Eggoni, the Bishop of Nandyal in India, the Rt Revd Fredrik Modéus, the Bishop of Växjö in Sweden and the Very Revd Reginald Leeuw, the Dean of Kimberley in the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in South Africa, will all give their blessing to Bishop Steven. While they are here, they are each taking part in a programme of visits around the Diocese.

During the service Bishop Steven will take a formal oath to the Archbishop of Canterbury, represented

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft.

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft.

on the day by the Acting Archdeacon of Canterbury.

He will also pronounce a blessing over the city of Oxford and the Diocese as a whole. The service combines the traditional with the modern, and includes music led by the Cathedral choir and also the Worship Band from St Andrew’s, Linton Road. It is expected to last around an hour.

The service, which takes place at 2.15pm on Friday 30 September, will be followed by services of welcome in each of the four archdeaconries to which all are welcome. These are on:

  • Wednesday 5 October, 7.45pm at Reading Minster
  • Sunday 9 October, 3.30pm at Dorchester Abbey
  • Wednesday 12 October, 7.30pm at the Church of the Holy Family on Blackbird Leys in Oxford
  • Thursday 13 October, at 6pm at All Saints, High Wycombe.

Everyone is welcome to attend these services. For the Reading event please email bishopreading@oxford.anglican.org to allow the organisers to plan the catering.