Letter from a Licensed Lay Minister – All Things New

A year ago, the Rt Revd, Steven Croft began his ministry as the new Bishop of Oxford.  

Since his inauguration in September 2016 in Christchurch cathedral, he has travelled across Oxford Diocese in a series of Deanery Days to get to know and to listen to the whole diocese.

His visit to Newbury Deanery took place on 4th July, the aim being to engage with lay people and clergy and to get to know the wider community as well as the church.

He arrived at St Mark’s church Cold Ash late morning, where he led clergy in a Eucharistic service and then joined them for lunch in the Fisher Room. The afternoon saw him in Hampstead Norreys Community cafe, meeting members of the newly formed dementia awareness group. After an early evening meal in Compton meeting with more lay people, he was whisked into Newbury to meet parishioners invited from the whole of the Deanery, to share refreshments, introduce himself, give a talk and answer questions.

He began with two questions-

  • What is your vision for the church in this diocese as we look ahead together? and
  • What are we therefore called to do together?

His answer was based on The Beatitudes in Matthew 5, beginning with ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, who know their need of God, making the point that we cannot live as we are called to without God. Moving through the passage, he had a deep thought for each verse.  The overall message was that the church should be a growing church and more Christ-like.

(The whole talk can be found on St. Nic’s website.  www.st-nics.org  (Home page, under ‘Recent Sermons’, Dr Steven Croft, 04/07/2017).
Bishop Steven is to attend a Summit to be held from 14th to 18th September in Kimberley South Africa for all parishes in Oxford Diocese, who have a link with a parish in SA. Each link in both Dioceses is to send two representatives. Newbury Deanery is linked with the church of St Michael and All Angels in Batlharos and two people from the Deanery are preparing for the visit. A conference of this nature has not happened before, so this is a new venture. The theme is similar to Bishop Steven’s vision, ‘Journeying together within the Body of Christ’. It will be a time to learn more about each other and to share prayer, experiences and reflection on key areas of mission and a chance to review where we are and to look towards the future.

Will you please pray for the success of this Summit?


Wendy Willoughby-Paul

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