Yesterday, in Christ Church, I began a prayer walk (or pilgrimage) across the city of Oxford. I’m planning to visit all 46 churches in the two deaneries of Oxford and Cowley over the eight days between 2nd and 9th September. You can follow progress on Twitter and Facebook.

I’m on foot most of the time but on Saturday we are planning a journey by canal boat. You are welcome to come and join in. There are more details here.

I’ll simply be praying for the Church across the city as I go and talking with my fellow walkers. I’m praying especially for the renewal of the ministry of every parish church in teaching the faith to enquirers and new Christians, and their journeying with children and young people and adults to baptism and confirmation .

I’ll be spending about half an hour at every church for a short act of prayer with anyone who gathers. I will then spend some time listening to the plans of the Vicar and PCC for this ministry in the coming year.

I’ve become more and more convinced that renewal in this ministry in every church is absolutely vital for the life of the Church of England in the next generation. So I’m hoping and praying that together we will see this renewal in the city of Oxford and more widely across the diocese and, working with many others, across the Church of England and across the world.

My Lent project this year was gathering around 120 people from every parish in the city and many chaplaincies to explore this renewal. Everyone agreed it was a timely move. Everyone agrees this ministry is changing.

We need God’s grace and to begin in prayer. We need to explore new ways – including working with people one-to-one as well as in groups. We need to dig into our long story and tradition and rediscover lessons from the past. We don’t know exactly what we are doing – but we do need to make a new start.

For more on the long story of this ministry see my post from earlier this year, A Very Short History of Catechesis. Our teaching needs to be simple but also deep, equipping people to live out their faith in a changing world.

I’m hoping that as many parishes as possible in the city will be working towards preparing candidates for baptism, confirmation and renewal of baptismal promises between Easter and Pentecost. I am sure different churches will do that in many different ways but we will do it together across the whole city and invite all those who want to come and learn to do so.

Later this term I will be leading five Bishop’s Study Days for all the clergy and lay ministers in the Diocese together with a group of theologians from Oxford University. Several hundred people are already signed up. To find out more and book a place, see the links on the right of this page.

I’ve also spent the summer writing daily reflections on the beatitudes for Lent and on the Lord’s Prayer for Easter for those who are preparing to be baptised and confirmed and anyone who wants to walk with them. More on these resources later.

All of this is part of our new diocesan vision to be a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world: contemplative, compassionate, courageous. I will have more to say on our whole vision process over the next few weeks.

But please pray with me and for me over these next eight days for God’s grace, for the power of the Spirit, for the renewal of this ministry of welcome and teaching and accompaniment and for many to come to baptism in the coming year.


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