It seems ironic, that when I wrote for the July and August magazine about the many comings and goings in the churches in Faringdon, I did not yet know that I too would be part of this! And now it seems that life is moving very fast, with plans and preparations for our Farewell Services, many areas of work and ministry to hand over, at the same time as needing to start making arrangements for our new start in Wolvercote later this autumn.
Moving is always a difficult time, but Jane and I have been very much aware of God’s leading throughout this whole process, and do feel that God is calling us now to this new place. It is certainly a challenge – a parish that stretches from rural Wytham and Lower Wolvercote, right across the north of Oxford to Cutteslowe Park and all the area around the north Oxford ring road, including areas of new housing development as well!
There is much that is familiar in our new parish! Like All Saints’, St Peter’s Wolvercote is an open, inclusive church, very much part of the community, and wanting to be there for the whole community. Like All Saints’, St Peter’s has been through a major building project, building church rooms attached to the church, and is now seeking to use them both for the church and community. And like All Saints’, St Peter’s has a strong commitment to children and young people, and to including all ages fully in the life of the church. And in place of Churches Together in Faringdon, we will be part of the Summertown and Wolvercote Churches Partnership, helping and supporting each other in the challenges of ministry and mission today.
In other ways it feels the right time to be moving. At All Saints’, after the completion of the Barber Rooms, we are clearly at the beginning of a new phase of ministry and mission – a turning point in the life of our church. We have a strong team of churchwardens at both our churches, and an excellent ministry team, able to take forward the ministry of the church during the vacancy. Both churches are in good heart, and there are a number of new members and new families strengthening our congregation at All Saints’.
And there are comings as well as goings. This month we are welcoming our new minister at the United Church, Revd Fred Ireland, and we hope that he will be our preacher at our morning United Service, at 10.30am on Sunday 27th September at the Junior School. And in the Deanery, on Tuesday 29th, at Buckland Church, we will be welcoming the Revd Talisker Tracey-McLeod as new Rector of the Cherbury/Gainfield benefice.
So autumn will be a time of change on many fronts. To begin the new season, we are having a service of Holy Communion with laying on of hands at 10.30am on Sunday September 13th. This is a service at which we invite all who would like to, to stay at the communion rail for a moment after receiving communion for a very simple short prayer for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Do join us if you can – it’s a lovely way to start the new season.
Also on the same day, we will be unveiling the memorial stone in Coach Lane for the 341 parishioners formerly buried on the north side of church. There will be a short simple ceremony at about 12.30 after coffee time on Sunday 13th. Do come and join us!
Do see below for more details on our special services through September and October. I will be writing again in the October magazine before we come to the end of our time here, with some reflections on the last few years and the way forward. Meanwhile may we all know God’s presence and God’s leading in this time of change.