School children celebrate St Frideswide

A BERKSHIRE primary school and staff at Christ Church Cathedral teamed up to conduct a pilgrimage to celebrate the life of Oxford’s patron saint.

Yattendon CE Primary School suspends its teaching timetable one day per year to celebrate the life of a remarkable Anglo Saxon princess who fled to Oxford to escape the attention of Algar, the pagan king of Mercia.

Princess Frideswide healed many people and a well from the legend, which was reputed to have healing properties, is near to Yattendon and is the pilgrimage destination.
To celebrate the patronal festival each class spent the morning on creative activities inspired by the saint and were joined by history expert Ruth Buckley and Christ Church Cathedral Education Officer Jackie Holderness.

The younger children acted out the story of the princess’ adventures, while Years 3 and 4 played a game, which involved the children reading short extracts from the saint’s legend, written in verse. In the Cathedral, Edward Burne-Jones’ window tells the story in stained glass and the children had to match a laminated picture of the window to each verse.
The older children performed a group drama about the life of St Frideswide. After lunch the whole school gathered for the pilgrimage to the holy well for a service.

Jackie said: “While history and tradition are important, the story of Frideswide seems to resonate with the Yattendon children primarily as an example of witness. The children seem to appreciate her example of trust in God, to whom she had dedicated her life.

“They are also very aware of Frideswide’s compassion and kindness, courage and determination, and her desire for a contemplative and prayerful life.”

Photo: Children enjoy circle dancing during the day’s activities (Christ Church, Oxford)

School’s Bible service brings an impromptu audience

A SCHOOL is being held up as a shining example after organising their own service of worship and bible-giving ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral.

Many schools make Bibles a gift to pupils as they leave in Year Six, but St Nicholas Primary School in Maidenhead wanted to ensure that pupils had their own Bibles for RE lessons throughout the school.

Children from St Nicholas School are shown around Christ Church Cathedral.

So a Year Three visit to Christ Church was arranged and pupils were presented with their Bibles. Before their visit, the children prepared prayers and chose a hymn to sing that, when performed, drew an unexpected audience from other visitors to the cathedral.

Class teacher Ellen Guest said: “The trip was made even more special when we had time at the end to sing an a capella hymn we had prepared, share our own prayer and hand out Bibles provided to us by our school PTA.

“The sound of the children singing in such a special location was heart-warming and gave us all goose-bumps and even some tears were shed!”
More than 2,500 pupils visit Christ Church Cathedral every year, learning about its architecture and history, as well as the story of Oxford’s patron saint, St Frideswide. The cathedral’s education team also leaves the hallowed walls to visit about 50 schools per year.

Christ Church education officer Jackie Holderness said: “Each and every school visit is tailor-made to match the teachers’ topic focus and learning objectives and the size and age range of the group.

“We try to make educational visits as interactive as possible, with role play and other activities, designed to bring the learning to life.
“The education team volunteers and I felt very privileged to be part of this simple service and it was most moving to note that all the other visitors inside the cathedral fell quiet to listen to the children singing: ‘Here I am, Lord’.”

After the service the children said they loved their visit because they found the cathedral ‘special and rare’ and had ‘lots of fascinating facts hidden inside it’.

Celebrating the link between faith and peace

by the Revd Dr Clive Barrett

HOW often do we hear religion being blamed for the wars of the world? The argument goes that, as there is a religious dimension to the mess in the Middle East, Islamic State, Northern Ireland, so religion must be a force for bad.

The watercolour presented to the Peace Museum. Copyright: Madjid Malakzadeh, Farzaeh Jafari and The Peace Musem.

Yet within each of the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – there is a priority of peace, a vision and longing for peace over violence. A new exhibition at Christ Church Cathedral glimpses the textual and practical search for peace in each of these religions. It tells stories of their peace-makers. It shows how each stresses welcome for the stranger, including those of other faiths.

Faith and Peace is sponsored by the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and illustrated with images of artefacts in the collection of the Peace Museum in Bradford. My favourite image comes from a watercolour presented to the Peace Museum by a Muslim woman, the Iranian Nobel Laureate, Shirin Ebadi. Originally painted by an Iranian peace group, it shows an angel sprinkling rose petals of peace on the earth. It reminds me that, whatever presidents and governments might say about states they do not like, in every country there are people like us, longing for peace.
For me, personally, the most poignant original artefact is a banner inscribed Oxford Christians for Peace; this was a group I helped to found 35 years ago. Just producing the exhibition has been a work of peace-making. Several of the original artworks have been produced by mixed-faith groups of women in Bradford.

Making these fabric pieces together has helped to build relationships between women of very different backgrounds. Some were Christian women who have never travelled outside Yorkshire; others were Syrian refugees, Muslims who have had to flee from war.

Stitching a Tree of Life for the Healing of the Nations, or working on a faux-stained-glass representation of Naomi and Ruth, biblical refugees from famine, has been a formative experience for these women. The Cathedral has paid for the women to travel to Oxford to see their work on display.

What priority do we give to peace-making and nonviolence in our own faith? Seeing Faith and Peace encourages us to work creatively with people of other faiths, side by side, to learn the things that make for peace.

The period the exhibition is on display covers All Saints, Remembrancetide, and Inter-Faith Week (12-19 November). See the exhibition and reflect on the male and female heroes for peace, on Jesus’s teaching and example against violence, and the importance of working alongside neighbours of other faiths. If we all act on the imperative for peace-making in our own faith, perhaps others will see that religion is not the problem but part of the solution for the peace of our world.

Faith and Peace: an exhibition at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford runs from 21 October – 20 November 2017

The Revd Dr Clive Barrett is Strategic Adviser to the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship:

Hundreds flock to the first Festival of Preaching

by Sarah Meyrick

FOUR hundred and fifty clergy and lay preachers came to Christ Church Oxford this month to take part in the first ever Festival of Preaching hosted by the College, the Cathedral and St Aldate’s Church.

The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, preaches at St Aldate’s.

The 48-hour festival was organised by the Church Times and Canterbury Press, part of the Hymns A&M group, and featured a top line-up of internationally respected speakers. These included the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, and well known in the Diocese of Oxford from his time as Bishop of Reading, and the Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, who spoke at the last diocesan clergy conference in 2014.

Bishop Stephen spoke with passion and energy about the craft of preaching and the importance of being heard. One comment he often hears at the church door is, “Thank you. I heard every word, Bishop.” Either, he said, this meant it was a terrible sermon, and the listener couldn’t think of anything else to say; or the comment suggested that being able to hear every word was a novel experience. He also stressed the importance of storytelling, and debunked the idea that congregations had short attention spans. “Just think about stand-up comedians,” he said. “They fill arenas and sometimes talk for two hours.”

Other speakers included Nadia Bolz-Weber, an ordained Lutheran pastor from Denver and the author of two New York Times bestsellers; Paula Gooder, Director of Mission Learning and Development for the Diocese of Birmingham; Canon Mark Oakley, Chancellor of St Paul’s; the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy; and the Revd Dr Joanna Collicutt who is the Oxford Diocesan Adviser on the Spiritual Care for Older People as well as a lecturer at Ripon College Cuddesdon.

Diocesan Canon Precentor : The Revd Dr Grant Bayliss

Christ Church and the Diocese of Oxford are delighted to announce the appointment of The Revd Dr Grant Bayliss as Diocesan Canon Precentor.

Interfaith students unite at Christ Church

Shoshana Singer reflects on a recent Oxford University Abrahamic Interfaith Formal.|

Students were invited to arrive early and experience an evensong that took place in their Cathedral. Participants of all faiths attended, taking in the sounds and sights and noting the similarities of the Bible readings and blessings for peace and harmony. The chaplain took special care to offer an interfaith prayer, making us feel particularly welcome in this space.

Our evening continued with drinks in the Ante Hall and a dinner in Christ Church Hall. Faith-based questions were placed on the table and served as icebreakers to guide intentional and meaningful conversation. A mixture of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu students mingled seamlessly with conversation ranging from coursework and college life, to faith-based conversations such as ritual practices, religious names, gender roles, and religious accommodation.

All dietary requirements were handled with ease and subsidized by the Archdeacon of Oxford, the Ven. Martin Gorick, making it possible for many religious students to engage in an otherwise impossible experience. After satisfying both our physical and spiritual needs, we transitioned to our second part of the evening through taking group photos on the famous Harry Potter stairs. Small table groups broke off to take their own “selfies” and photos as if to set in stone their new, budding friendships.

In the lecture room, was heard from Rabbi Michael Rosenfeld-Schueler, a Jewish chaplain from Oxford Brookes, the Revd Clare Hayns of Christ Church, and Hassaan Shawawy, a Rhodes Scholar reading Islamic Studies. Each shared their spiritual journey and talked a bit about their current projects. It was particularly moving to hear how each of them became more observant and how different stages of their lives continue to impact their religiosity.

Shoshana Singer

As the evening progressed, the time for evening prayer was drawing near. Individually, Muslim students mentioned that they would need to step out for their evening prayer. Unfortunately, we had not sorted this out ahead of time, and in the future we certainly will. However, the lack of preparation ended up leading to a beautiful and spontaneous event. On a whim, we took an intermission from the speakers and progressed to pray. Separated by a line of tables, two faiths prayed their evening prayers, Muslim students prayed maghrib and Jewish students prayed maariv.

The sounds reverberated throughout the room, as students prayed to their God in their respective languages. Post prayer, we resumed with a panel and an opportunity for questions and answers. Students asked a variety of questions, with the final question regarding how to engage in serious interfaith relations in the future.

Each leader provided us with a different answer. One suggested we discuss our similarities and another challenged us to engage with “the elephant in the room”, the Israel/Palestine conflict. Students walked away feeling up for the challenges and excited for the work we can do together in bridging our communities.
I feel remarkably blessed to have worked with Amna Ali of New College and other members of the Oxford University Islamic Society board. We are grateful to have had a hand in such a project and cannot wait to see what our multi-faith future holds.

Shoshanah Singer is the interfaith representative of the Oxford University Jewish Society.

Islip children ‘on song’ at annual service for Headteachers and Governors


CHILDREN from Doctor South’s CE Primary School in Islip provided the choir for the annual Service for Headteacher’s and Governors at Christ Church Cathedral today.

The choir, accompanied on piano by headteacher, Huw Morgan, were praised for their singing by many of the people who attended the packed service. Below is a gallery of photographs from the event.

Children from Dr South’s

The packed cathedral

Eight people honoured for their work for the Church of England and the Diocese of Oxford

SEVEN new Canons were installed at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 28 January. In the same service one new member was admitted to the Order of St Frideswide.

Last year’s Honorary Canons smile for the camera after the annual service.

The Canons are the Revd Jeff West, the Revd Kevin Davies, the Revd Emma Percy and the Revd Canon John Rees. Lay Canons are Sarah Meyrick and Richard Fisher. The Ecumenical Canon is the Revd Dr Ralph Waller. Canons are selected because of their work within the Diocese of Oxford and the wider church. During the same service Michael Hardman was admitted to the Order of St Frideswide. The order, named after the patron saint of Oxford, was founded in 2001 by the then Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Richard Harries. It is a way of giving recognition to lay people who have given outstanding service to the Church over many years.


Sarah Meyrick has worked as a journalist, editor and PR professional. She is the Director of Communictions for the Diocese of Oxford and the Director of the Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature. She lives in Northamptonshire with her husband. Last year she published her first novel, Knowing Anna.

Richard Fisher joined the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) in 1988, straight after reading Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, which is part of Oxford University. It was originally intended to be a one-year appointment as a gap year before going to theological college, but 28 years later he’s still there. He has led the charity since its relocation to Oxfordshire in 1991. He is married to Karen, who herself was a student at Christ Church, and they have a daughter Hannah and a son Will.

The Revd Jeff West is a social scientist and historian by background, and formerly a director at English Heritage. Jeff has served since 2007 as a self-supporting minister at St Mary’s, Banbury.  Chair of the Cotswolds Conservation Board from 2009-14, he also sits on the Cherwell Local Strategic Partnership and in 2012 was appointed Area Dean of Deddington.

The Revd Kevin Davies attended Maidstone Grammar School, and University College, Oxford, where he graduated in Chemistry in 1984, and served as Junior Dean from 1986-87. He has been in full time Christian ministry since 1987, and after a theology degree from Bristol and ordination in 1993 served parishes in the Bradford and Carlisle Dioceses. He became the Rector of the Langtree Team ministry in 2002, and was the Area Dean of Henley from 2011-2016.

The Revd Emma Percy is Chaplain, Fellow and Welfare Dean of Trinity College, Oxford. She was one of the first generation of women priests in the Church of England and is chair of WATCH (Women And The Church). Her research interests include feminist theology and the practice of ministry. Her two recent books are Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry, Ashgate, and What Clergy do: especially when it looks like nothing. SPCK.

The Revd Canon John Rees has been involved with the legal aspects of the Diocese for over 30 years, including nearly 20 years as a registrar. He was appointed a ‘Provincial Canon’ of Canterbury Cathedral in 2001, in connection with his work for the Archbishop both nationally and internationally, and made a Chaplain to HM The Queen in 2014.

Michael Hardman was born in India in 1938. After returning to England he became a committed Christian in his late teens through Sutton Crusaders, Surrey. After qualifying as a chartered accountant and marrying Jacquie, who he met at Crusaders, they joined Christ Church, Bristol in 1963, moving to Buckinghamshire in 1966. He became a member of the PCC in Chesham in 1968 and has held treasury roles from then until now, nearly 50 years. He served as Vice-Chair of the Oxfordshire Diocesan Board of Finance for 15 years.

Ralph Waller has been  the Principal of Harris Manchester College since 1988.  He is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Director of the Farmington Institute for Christian Studies.  He researches on eighteenth and nineteenth-century church history and religious thought.  He is a Methodist Minister who has written extensively on John Wesley.

Hear a Christmas message from Bishop Steven

Uniting science and religion

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SCIENCE and religion are being imaginatively brought together in the Diocese of Oxford. the Door reports on events and initiatives that are making this happen in schools, churches and science centres.

by Berry Billingsley

“How do we know what’s true?” “How do know what’s real?” “Can robots ever equal or surpass us?” When we were teenagers some of us enjoyed science fiction as a way to escape with some of the big questions of life, the universe and everything. Inside each story there seemed to be coherence and logic about what was taking place. lasarconf2016-photo4

Meanwhile, at school, lessons followed lessons in a jumbled, disconnected series of subjects and, at the end of the year came an exam. Once the exams were over you could put aside everything you’d learnt. Today, schools, and educationalists more widely are realising that it’s not enough to help children pass individual exams in science, English, maths and a language; we also need children who can be insightful and critical about what is presented to them as truth and knowledge.

To develop this kind of insight, young people need opportunities to work across disciplines – and also to learn about the natures of our disciplines and their different strengths and weaknesses.
In this new field, those teachers and educators who have given thought to how science and religion relate, and to how those relationships can be best explained to young people are arguably leaders among those grappling with this issue.

Perhaps this helps to explain why a conference held at the end of October in Oxford on “Science, Religion and Education” drew a capacity audience of more than 90 delegates and featured presenters from eight countries (pictured right). The event was organised by the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) Project at Canterbury Christ Church University and the Department of Education at Oxford.

A common theme was that the teaching of science and religion are kept very separate. Science teachers – even if they have faith – are not comfortable with bringing or addressing questions that relate to religion into their lessons as they fear they would go beyond the scope of the subject. Meanwhile teachers of the humanities subjects often don’t feel at home with scientific concepts and language.

So how do we convey ideas about how science and religion relate to children – and are some analogies and metaphors more helpful to them than others? One metaphor that stood out is the metaphor of the kettle – and the question, “Why is the kettle boiling?” One answer is that the element is heating the water. Another is that I want a cup of tea. Those aren’t the only answers – and once we start to think there could be lots of answers which don’t necessarily compete and which indeed add more richness to the answer in one discipline alone. A similar question for younger children is: why did my doorbell ring?
This event was the beginning, we hope, of more collaborations and international discussion.

Professor Berry Billingsley is a Professor of Science Education at Canterbury University and the lead investigator for LASAR. Email or go to The Revd Mark Laynesmith, Chaplain at Reading University, and Dr Keith Chappell, a lecturer at Reading whose own research has included ecology and science and society, particularly science and religion, are involved with LASAR.

Starting with a bang – the big one – at Christ Church Cathedral

by Jacqueline Holderness

Christ Church Cathedral Education Department recently hosted God and the Big Bang (GTTB). Magdalen College School and the Oxford Academy visited the cathedral for the event. This national initiative originated in Manchester in 2011, motivated by the findings of LASAR (see above).

Youngsters experiment with science at the Christ Church Cathedral LASAR day.

Youngsters experiment with science at the Christ Church Cathedral LASAR day.


GTBB is now being led by Michael Harvey, who launched Back to Church Sunday in 2004. Michael now works with scientist Stephanie Bryant from the Faraday Institute, Cambridge, and enjoys encouraging Christians to care for the natural world. GTBB is now being led by Michael Harvey, who launched Back to Church Sunday in 2004. Michael now works with scientist Stephanie Bryant from the Faraday Institute, Cambridge, and enjoys encouraging Christians to care for the natural world. GTBB is funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The project involves schools across the UK and supports teachers of science and RE to help students grapple with current ideas surrounding science and faith. GTBB inspires young people to embark on their own journey of discovery, creating a generation of excited, curious thinkers who will remember the event for many years to come.

Earlier this year, more than 120 students from the two Oxford schools gathered in a marquee for a full-day, conference style school event, which started with a keynote talk by Andy Fletcher, the President and CEO of “Life, the Universe and Everything” – a non-profit organisation dedicated to working with international schools and communities, offering seminars on 20th and 21st century physics. His talk was challenging, entertaining and inspirational and certainly started the day with a bang – the big one.

The students were then divided into four groups of 30 for workshops on topics including quantum mechanics, fractal geometry in nature and building earthquake-proof structures. Speakers included Tim Middleton and Anna Pearson (University of Oxford) and Naomi Brehm (University of Durham).

They explained their own journeys through science and faith and covered questions such as: “Why does God love science?” and “Where is God in an earthquake?” The workshop sessions were interactive and involved resources, from marshmallows and skewers, to flowers and one penny coins.

The students engaged well with the complex content and asked very profound and intriguing questions. In the final plenary the discussion was so lively and meaningful that a few students lingered on, reluctant to relinquish this opportunity to consider the big questions of life.

As well as the staff from each school, we were joined by Professor Allan Chapman of Wadham College, Edmund Newey, Sub- Dean of Christ Church, and Samantha Cragg, Director of the Oxford Schools Chaplaincy. Everyone was so impressed by the quality of the event it is hoped that GTBB will return to Oxford next year.

If your school is interested in hosting GTBB in collaboration with Christ Church, contact the Cathedral Education Officer:


‘Cosmic Chemistry’ with ‘Crossing the Gap’ in Harwell and Chilton

AS the Door went to press, the organisers of a project that attracted national Church funding were getting ready for an event that would see Professor John Lennox talk on whether science and God can mix.
John is an Emeritus Professor of Maths at Oxford University and an internationally renowned speaker on science, philosophy and religion. He was due to speak at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on “Cosmic Chemistry” as part of the “Crossing the Gap” project organised by the Harwell and Chilton Churches. Funded by the national Scientists in Congregations initiative, “Crossing the Gap” is a project with three strands.
Dr Carina Lobley, a protein biochemist and one of the organisers, said: “On the last Friday of every month in term time we meet for Family Science Club. We have already met twice and spend time doing some hands-on science followed by reflecting on how this helps us understand a passage from the Bible in a new light. On alternate Thursdays we run a science discussion group which is a space to explore the relationship between science and the Christian faith and understand how a variety of people view this interaction. Each term we will have one keynote lecture, which is the opportunity to hear from well-known speakers to underpin our confidence in the compatibility between science and Christian faith.”

Dr Carina Lobley, a protein biochemist and one of the organisers, said: “On the last Friday of every month in term time we meet for Family Science Club. We have already met twice and spend time doing some hands-on science followed by reflecting on how this helps us understand a passage from the Bible in a new light. On alternate Thursdays we run a science discussion group which is a space to explore the relationship between science and the Christian faith and understand how a variety of people view this interaction. Each term we will have one keynote lecture, which is the opportunity to hear from well-known speakers to underpin our confidence in the compatibility between science and Christian faith.”

The Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey, the Rector of Harwell with Chilton and a practising GP, said: “We live in an area that is famous for cutting-edge science and technology, and many of our church members are practising or retired professional scientists. We realised, though, that many people, both church members and in the wider community, are uncertain about the relationship between science and faith – there is so much in the popular media about how they are supposed to be in conflict. We strongly feel this is not the case – science is a very Christian activity to be involved in, exploring and stewarding God’s wonderful creation, and discovering more about God in the process. Many leading scientists in history today are full of faith, and convinced that both the discoveries of science and the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible are true. Through our ‘Crossing the Gap’ project we hope to help people of all ages and levels of knowledge to explore how this can be.”

Professor John Lennox speaks at 7pm on Tuesday 29 November. Admission is free but book at There will be a buffet from 6.30pm. The Laboratory is on the Harwell Campus, OX11 0FA.

Congratulations to our new Licensed Lay Ministers


Lindsey Baker, Margaret Davison, Janet Keene and Rosalind Steel are our new Licensed Lay Ministers.

Our new Licensed Lay Ministers are celebrating today (Saturday 5 November 2016) after their licensing service at Christ Church Cathedral. Read a short biography of each of them.

Margaret Davison (St Peter’s, Woolhampton):

“I was brought up in a Christian family, attending the village church and Sunday school most Sundays, but it wasn’t until much later in life that I realised the power of prayer and the real presence of God. I’m looking forward to continuing my ministry as a Licensed Lay Minister.”

Ros Steel (Christ Church, Abingdon):

“I became a Christian in my teens, and have always had a sense of God’s call upon my life. At different stages this has led me in various directions, from teaching and music to, more latterly, counselling and spiritual direction. This call to Licensed Lay Ministry feels like both an affirmation of the work I am already doing, and permission to step more fully into the role of a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a joy and a challenge.”

Lyndsay Baker (Carterton):

“I was shocked when I felt Jesus was urging me to step forward for lay ministry. Fortunately, my husband, two children and Carterton church family are very supportive. And, when I have trusted and obeyed Jesus he has proven what a faithful and awesome God he is.”

Charles Howlett (St Mary the Virgin, Amersham):

“I moved to Amersham in 1983 to work at Chilterns Crematorium, where I’ve been ever since. I married a local funeral director’s daughter, Annie, and we have two children and a grandson. I soon started singing in the local church choir and gradually got more involved and found God blessing me with the gift of faith.”

Janet Keene (SS Michael & Mary Magdalene, Easthampstead):

Janet is married and has three children and a granddaughter. When Church @ the Pines started up as a Local Ecumenical Partnership church plant from St Michael’s and the Methodist circuit in Bracknell, Janet and her daughter went to the first service. She was confirmed there, and continued to worship there. She works full time as an official for the National Association of Head Teachers.