letter from bishop steven 

A letter to the Diocese of Oxford
Bishop Steven
Dear Friends

At Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit on the early Church. The Spirit changes everything and helps us to become more like Jesus Christ.  The Spirit equips and empowers us for God’s mission in every age.  The Spirit helps us to be salt and light in God’s world.  

Our world faces many challenges.  The recent terror attacks in Manchester and London remind us of the challenge of building a strong, united society. This week, Britain goes to the polls in a general election.  A few days after that, the detailed negotiations about Brexit are set to begin.  

The world and our nation need us to be the best Church we can be in such a time as this.  

I have now visited 22 of our 29 deaneries as I listen to what is happening across the diocese.  So far I’ve met with over 2000 people who have shared their hopes and vision and questions with me. I look forward to visiting the remaining 7 deaneries by the end of July.  

I’ve seen a huge amount that is good.  The diocese has a shared understanding of God’s mission, one of the strongest legacies of Living Faith. There are many outstanding examples of compassionate service, deep engagement in prayer and some remarkable pioneering ventures.  Together we are a network of more than a thousand churches, chaplaincies and schools in every part of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Bucks and Milton Keynes.

I’ve talked in my deanery visits about the kind of Church we are called to be. The simple call to become a more Christ-like Church has resonated very deeply whenever I have shared it.  The Beatitudes in Matthew’s gospel speak to us very clearly about what it means to be a Christ like Church: we are called to be contemplative, compassionate and courageous in all we attempt together.  

I’ve found an appetite for a fresh vision and strategy across the Diocese of Oxford and a desire to work together to create that vision in the coming months. Our communities are changing all the time.  There are new things happening in our wider society.  The population is growing.  Our work in schools is developing. We must reflect on all these changes and decide where our new priorities lie and what kind of future we want to build together.  

In May, 120 people from across the diocese came together for a major conference: Towards a Common Vision. I invited Lay Chairs, Area Deans, Bishop's Council, some leaders of larger churches, BAME Anglicans and those who work with children and young people.  

The conference was a time to test out some developing ideas about what kind of church we are called to be and about what we are called to do together: our areas of focus for the next seven years.  

I gave three reflections based on the story of the raising of Lazarus on what it means to be a contemplative, compassionate and courageous church.  These themes were welcomed by people of many different traditions.  You can find these reflections on the diocesan website together with other materials from the conference.  

There was a significant amount of energy, joy and hope in the three day conference.  Thank you for your prayers for our time together.  We did some initial work together on six possible strategic priority areas.  These now need more work, reflection and wider consultation in the autumn.  We will be doing more work on our emerging vision and strategy at our Diocesan Synod on 17 June and Bishop’s Council on 12 July.  I will write again with some more details about how we will widen this conversation in a few weeks’ time.  

Please continue to pray with me that we continue to become more contemplative, compassionate and courageous and that we put Christ at the heart of everything we do as we move forward together.  

With love and prayers



vacancy with IFES 

International Fellowship of Evangelical Students have a vacancy for a Financial Systems Database Administrator to be based at their office in Oxford.  The post would be suited to an IT graduate with a specific interest in databases or finance.  See more on the IFES website. 


prayer spaces at all saints' chilton 

Prayerspaces flyer 


five marks of mission 

See the July/August edition of the Ridgeway Broadsheet or our church noticeboards for a clearer version of this poster.

5 marks of mission image 


scripture union in nigeria


About the leprosy mission


prayer spaces 

mindfulness - up around back f

Good Looking:

The PrayerSpaces tent has been at Harwell Primary this week. Every pupil spent around 45 minutes thinking, reflecting and/or praying about 4 different topics LOOKING UP (awe & wonder); LOOKING BACK (thankfulness); LOOKING FORWARD(anticipation & apprehension); LOOKING AROUND (considering others). Thank you to the incredible team of 18 people who gave 75 hours of their time to bless the school and the pupils. 

Miss it, miss out:

If you've ever wondered what goes on at Prayer Spaces or why it is so popular, then wonder no more! All next week at All Saints' you can go along and experience it for yourself. The different zones will all be available for you to explore - either on your own or with your children. Open from 9am - 5pm, with a host available 9am-10am & 3pm-5pm.


cfw numbers 16-22 June 

Pathfinders 9; Kids Church 8; Pebbles 11; Y Club 13; YF 6; Fledgelings 34 adults & 40 children
This week about 25 people donated an amazing 100+ hours of their time to serve the children & their families. And this excludes all the time in preparation for Spy Academy Holiday Club.


ridgeway Broadsheets 

Bee verses
The July/August Broadsheet will be ready for delivery from 30th June, having just been sent to the printers.  Thank you to all our deliverers for taking the Broadsheets and Easter and Christmas cards around our villages.
We are now looking for one or two people to deliver 51 Broadsheets to the South end of Harwell High Street. Please contact Vicky in the Church office if you can help. Thank you.


the leprosy mission 

The Leprosy MissionAs part of our series on Five Marks of Mission, we are also highlighting five missionary organisations that Harwell and Chilton Churches support. 
Mark 3 (our focus this week) is: ‘To respond to human need by loving service’. This is something that The Leprosy Mission is very involved with as they aim to transform the lives and empower those affected by leprosy.
Leprosy Mission Prayer:
Almighty Father, the giver of life and health, look mercifully on those who suffer from leprosy. Stretch out your hand to touch and heal them as Jesus did during his earthly life. Grant wisdom and insight to those who are seeking the prevention and cure of the disease; give skill and sympathy to those who minister to the patients; reunite the separated with their families and friends; and inspire your people with the task set before The Leprosy Mission, that it may never lack either the staff or the means to carry on its healing work, in accordance with your will, and to the glory of your holy name. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.


Matthew 25:31

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.



bbc radio oxford interview 

Pam Rolls
Listen to BBC Radio Oxford next Sunday morning at 6.30am and you may hear Pam Rolls speaking about Harwell and Chilton churches! The interview will also be available on iPlayer for 2 weeks after the broadcast.



family science club 

Join us for our penultimate Family Science Club on Friday 30th June at St Matthew’s Church Hall. The club is aimed at Key Stage 2 children, but all are welcome. In this session will be looking at ‘God’s bow in the sky’, the rainbow. We will talk about the new beginning God gave the world and how to look after the world. We’ll also think about the science behind the rainbow and different ways of making rainbows.


spare tv? 

The TV monitor used with the AV system for the North transept is showing an intermittent fault. If anyone is disposing of a working small flat screen TV (26” or less) please let Tony Hughes or Vicky know.  It would be gratefully received.  Thank you.


prayer spaces 

bespaceHarwell PrayerSpaces:  Mon 19th - Fri 23rd June, Harwell Primary have once again invited us to take part in their week of 'mindfulness'.  The PrayerSpaces tent will have 4 zones - Looking Up (awe & wonder), Looking Back (thankfulness), Looking Forward (excitement & apprehension) and Looking Around (loving our neighbour).  Speak to Peter if you'd like to volunteer an hour (or twenty)! to this wonderful & rewarding event.
Chilton PrayerSpaces: Mon 26th - Fri 30th June, we're opening up All Saints’ and inviting children, their families and the whole community to experience PrayerSpaces for themselves.  This isn't as supervised as it will be as when it takes place in the schools but we'd still like to have a 'guide' available to anyone who visits. If you're willing to be a guide for an hour or two on one of the afternoons (3pm-5pm), please speak to Peter or Pam.




A training day organised by the Methodists for those who'd like to develop their skills for children's ministry.  Might be useful for those who are volunteering at Holiday Club.  Sat 1st July, 10.30am - 3.30pm @ Didcot Methodist church. Topics covered:
Working with side age ranges of children; Working with children from different backgrounds; Presenting the bible in a relevant way for children; Managing children.
Please book a place with Gill Thomas; thomas@methodistchurch.org.uk.


9th September seaside trip 

Harwell and Chilton Churches are going to the seaside on Saturday 9th September. Tickets are now on sale - £12 each. We have booked a coach to pick up from Harwell at 8.30am and Chilton at 8.40am. We aim to arrive in Bournemouth around 10.30am. The coach leaves Bournemouth at 6.30pm. For those who would prefer to drive and meet us there - we will provide a mobile number so that you can find us. We’ll aim to have lunch (bring a packed lunch or get fish and chips) together on the beach and have some games in the afternoon.
Please contact Vicky for more details about the day. If you would like to reserve space on the coach please sign up on the list on the Church noticeboard or email Vicky.


Didcot Emergency Food bank 

foodbank"We live in uncertain times - very much a cliche, and very true as we contemplate Brexit and politics around the world; here in Didcot we find ourselves classified as "the most normal town in England" by ASI Data Science, which has a ring of stability about it!
It's certainly true that the town reflects all stratas of society, and it is really encouraging to see those who are relatively well off thinking of those who struggle, and taking action to help: in addition to the Foodbank donations that you collect regularly, individuals in the town are this year giving an average of 132 items a week via the collecting boxes kindly provided by Sainsburys at their main store checkout. In addition, Tesco donate any surplus ambient foods left over on Thursday evenings, the SOFEA warehouse on Trident Park kindly provide any fresh fruit, veg and other items that are available.
This is brilliant, for, as some of you know, demand so far in 2017 has not dropped very much after the Christmas season, i.e. we issued food for 215 in December, 176 in January, 204 in both February and March, 177 in April. We have been told that much of this will relate to benefit issues: delays, restrictions, deeper investigation of claims, and the six week wait for payment following a successful claim under the new Universal Credit. It will be interesting to compare experiences with other local foodbanks at next Wednesday's annual Oxfordshire Foodbank Forum.
Can I pass on to you the heartfelt thanks of those who use the Foodbank - when they thank us we tell them that it is you, the local people, who make it possible. 
What sort of things do we need at the moment? We are always running short of staples such as tinned meat and vegetables, and rice. Other items that are particularly welcome at the moment are UHT milk, breakfast cereals and UHT fruit juice.
We are also always pleased to welcome new volunteers"

Best wishes, Didcot Emergency Foodbank Team.


parenting teenagers 

The Parenting Teenagers Course is for any parents, step-parents or carers of children aged 11 – 18 years. While it is based on Christian principles, it is designed for parents with or without a Christian faith. It is a practical 5 week course that will help you parent effectively. You don’t have to be struggling either, maybe you just need a few more tools at your disposal. It is presented by Nicky and Sila Lee from Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB).
Dates:      5 week course - Thursdays: 8 June, 15 June, 22 June, 29 June, 6 July 2017
Time:        7.30pm - 9.45pm
Venue:    Hendreds Primary School, Ford Lane, East Hendred, OX12 8JX
Contact: Vicky for more information and to book a place. This course is run under the umbrella of The King’s Church, Didcot.
Topics covered are: Keep your long term aim in mind; Meet you teenager’s needs; Set clear boundaries; Develop emotional health; Help them make good choices.
The evening consists of pudding and coffee, a 60 minute DVD (in two parts) and an opportunity for discussion and to work through your manuals. The cost is £10 per person which will cover all materials and catering. It is fine for one parent to attend if babysitting is a concern.


prayer 2017

A Call to Prayer - Jesus Christ calls every person to follow him. As Christians it’s our duty and joy to share that invitation. That’s why the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting every church in England to join a week of prayer from 25th May - 4th June to pray for every Christian to receive new confidence and joy in sharing this life-transforming faith. See www.thykingdomcome.global for more information and resources to help us pray.  There is also a place to pledge to pray for more people to know Jesus.



Seating and Heating UPdate 

We have some more hurdles to surmount before we can proceed with new seating and heating and other work planned for this summer.

The Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches (DAC) considered our proposals in March. One thing they want us to do is to make the heating proposal into a separate case, which they will consider when we are able to provide more information from other churches about the running costs of our preferred electric radiator system.

They did this so as not to hold up our proposals for seating, and for making the floor suitable for chairs. They have not objected to these proposals, although there was concern over our plans to use carpet on the floor. They will though only issue the Notice of Advice Certificate, without which we cannot apply for approval from the Diocese via a Faculty, once we have provided some more information and our Church Architect has done a survey of the floor and provided a full specification for all the work.

After some discussion it is now clear that we can only provide what is needed if we take up the entire existing carpet. We intend to do this starting on 30th May. The church will then be without the carpet for an indefinite period, which unfortunately will inevitably cause some inconvenience. We ask for your patience and understanding while we tackle this quite difficult task.

We have pushed the timetable for implementing the proposals back to the period mid August to end October, and the PCC has accepted that it might be necessary to go into November. Whatever happens on seating and heating, we will go ahead with completing the re-decoration of the nave walls and ceiling during this period.

We regret that as well as disruption in the Summer and Autumn there will now be bare floors in the nave and aisles in June and possibly beyond. We shall try to keep you posted on what is happening. Sometime soon there will also be an appeal for pledges to help fund these improvements, that are designed to aid our mission by making the building more flexible, accessible and comfortable.

If you would like more details please ask the Rector, Churchwardens, or Tony Hughes.


baptism & Confirmation 

baptismWould you like to be Baptised or Confirmed?
Baptism marks the beginning of the Christian life and Confirmation the point in the Christian journey at which you affirm for yourself the faith into which you have been baptised and your intention to live a life of committed discipleship. A number of people have expressed their desire to do this, and so we are planning to have a special service of Baptism and Confirmation, possibly in the late summer or autumn. The service would be led by a bishop and would be a great opportunity to invite family and friends to celebrate with us, as we ask God to give power through the Holy Spirit to enable the candidates to live in the way of Jesus. If you would like to find out more, please speak to Jonathan or Pam, or click here.



psalm 32:8 



john Lennox Cosmic Chemistry

We were privileged to welcome Professor John Lennox in November as the first keynote speaker in our Crossing the Gap series. His lecture, titled 'Cosmic Chemistry: Do Science and God mix?', opened up the idea that rather than a conflict between science and religion, there is a conflict between the world views of theism and atheism - there are excellent scientists with both world views. John gave us a really entertaining talk and I would encourage you to view the video of the lecture. In resizing the video some blur has been introduced, but please bear with it - the content is well worth hearing!


Mark 9:37 

welcomes me 


aston tirrold centre for reflection 

Aston Tirrold Centre for Reflection
runs regular events, one of which is a fortnightly Meditation Group -- 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month, 11.30am -- Affiliated to the World Community for Christian Meditation. We listen to a recording, meditate for 25 mins and then have a short discussion relating to the recording. They also have an art group and film club group.  See their website for more information.


the bible project 

Bible project
Have you seen any of The Bible Project films? They’ve created 5-7 minute films for each book of the bible giving an overview of the key themes.  The images are line drawings done as the book is explained. You can watch them all for free online. See thebibleproject.com to find out more. Their desire is to show how the bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.


crossing the gap award

Carina Lobley recently attended an awards ceremony run by the Archbishop of York about Scientists in Congregation Scheme. You can view it below. Carina appears at 4.12 talking about our Science & Faith Project in Harwell and Chilton.



holiday club 2017 

GroupshotFor those of you who plan your holidays early, keep the dates Mon 14th - Fri 18th August 2017 free. That week is earmarked for Holiday Club!



homegroupsWe have a number of homegroups meeting throughout the week in Harwell and Chilton and we would love to see more people joining our groups.  Homegroups are small groups that meet together to read the bible, ask questions, learn from one another and pray.  
Morning groups: Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Afternoon groups: Wednesdays and Fridays
Evening groups: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays   
Our groups are very happy to welcome new members.  Please contact Jean Barton if you would like to join a group, or have a question about homegroups. Even if none of the times above are suitable for you, please contact Jean and we'll try and make it happen!
We're also looking for someone to help look after children during our Tuesday morning group. Please contact Jean if you're able to help.



running the race 

running raceDo you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24



st matthews seAs part of our mission to Grow God’s Church, wider, deeper and closer, St Matthew’s PCC have been progressing plans to make the church building more flexible, comfortable and accessible. Following the consultation in November, and the Day of Prayer and the discussion at the APCM in April, the PCC have been researching the options for an upgraded heating system and new seating.

The decision has now been taken to replace the existing high-level radiant heaters with wall-based electric radiators. This system should provide a much more comfortable environment than the current system, with lower hourly running costs. With increasing use of the church building, it should even ‘pay for itself’. An electric system would be more flexible, easier and cheaper to install, and less visually intrusive than a gas-fired system, which was the main alternative.

A working group have carefully considered various chairs to replace the pews in the main body of the church, taking account of things such as comfort, stackability, and durability. The recommendation, accepted by PCC, is for a chair called ‘Abbey’, widely used in churches and cathedrals, and for the whole floor to be covered with a carpet of a similar type and quality to the present one.

The next steps are to develop these plans, consulting with the Church Architect, Diocesan authorities and historic societies, and consider fund-raising possibilities. The estimated total cost of an upgraded heating system, new seating and carpeting is around £90,000, and much of this could be covered from existing reserves. Quotes will be sought in the autumn, and permissions in the spring, with a view to all the work being done in the summer/early autumn of 2017.

Please speak to a Churchwarden, member of PCC, or Jonathan for further information.



The Flowers of the field




A Call to Prayer—Jesus Christ calls every person to follow him. As Christians it’s our duty and joy to share that invitation. That’s why the Archbishops of Canterbury and York invited every church in England to join a week of prayer from 8-15 May - to pray for every Christian to receive new confidence and joy in sharing this life-transforming faith. See www.thykingdom.co.uk for more information.  There is also an excellent video calling us to pray for 5 of our friends or family to become Christians (see below). The video reminds us of D L Moody who prayed for 100 of his friends to become Christians. By the time he died, he’d ticked that 96 of them had become Christians. The other 4 became Christians at his funeral!



Songs of Praise 2016

Songs of Praise returned to Harwell Recreation Ground on Sunday 29th May 2016. You can view a video of the event below or here.



Didcot Food Bank 

foodThe Didcot Food Bank urgently require more food donations especially tinned meat, tinned vegetables, whole UHT milk, biscuits, packet puddings, treats and sugar to help people around Didcot. You can see the full list here. The food donation plastic container is left at the back of St Matthew's church in the vestry every Sunday for donations. Donations can also be left in All Saints' Church.  Thank you for your support. 



Children and Families' Report Jan 2016 

Please click here for the report


All Saints' New Path

That's Oxford TV have produced a news item about the new path at All Saints' Chilton. You can view it below or here.


Responding to the refugee crisis 

1. Pray

It can be hard to know how to pray.  Christian Aid have suggested that we:
· Pray for those who have and are fleeing their homes into an uncertain future.
· Pray for those in authority to make wise, cooperative and compassionate decisions.
· Pray for change and a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria.
More prayer points can be found on their website.
2. Give
Tearfund have a Refugee Crisis Fund 2015 which St Matthew’s and All Saints’ will be supporting over the Harvest weekend.
3. Petition
Email or write to Ed Vaizey, our local MP. dicksonce@parliament.uk, or
Ed Vaizey MP Office, Vale and Downland Museum, Church Street, Wantage OX12 8BL

Sign a petition to ask the government to respond.

4. Support a grass roots group
5. Provide accommodation
· If you own a property that could be used for a refugee family, please contact Citizens UK  
· Home for Good are looking for foster families to take refugee children
· If you can offer a room please contact Refugees Welcome

‘For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ …
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:35-36,40 (NLT)