Enhancing and Resourcing the Rural Church

An implementation Steering Group has recently been established to take the above programme forward.  With Glyn Evans as Chair and Charles Chadwick as Executive Secretary, the team is also looking to recruit 3 new lay members, one from each of the 3 rural Archdeaconries.  The Steering Group has therefore asked us to draw your attention to 2 events to unveil the work of the project, and encourage you to consider attending.  These will be held on Saturday 17 June in Buckinghamshire, and Saturday 24 June in Oxfordshire. Posters will be sent out shortly to all rural benefices and parishes and the events will also appear on e-news in due course, but do make a note of these dates now.

As we know, the Diocese of Oxford is one of the largest dioceses in the country. 30% of its parishes have a population of under 500.  If the Countryside Commission’s definition of a rural place, where the population is under 3,000, is used, 50% of parishes qualify as rural. Since late 2014 a small working group, set up by the Board of Mission, has been considering many of the facets of how the rural church expresses itself, how it is experienced, and how it may be enhanced and resourced for the future.

At the start of 2017 the Board of Mission endorsed the report of the working group which has a series of recommendations that address nine identified areas which impinge on the life and flourishing of the rural church:

  • Addressing the environment, context and well-being of those who serve in a rural context
  • Raising vocations
  • Ensuring the future of church buildings
  • Exploring different models of governance in Multi Parish Benefices
  • Strengthening finance
  • Supporting rural schools
  • Engaging with the changes new housing brings
  • Training for people in leadership roles
  • Replenishing the rural church for the future

These recommendations are not intended to be a ‘top down’ programme, rather they are designed to offer thinking and resources for the rural church across the diocese. To that end we are calling the ongoing work The Enhancing and Resourcing the Rural Church programme.

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Quiz In Aid of The Food Bank: Saturday 11 March 2017 at 7.00pm

Pat Hodges (‘Miss Quiz’) and her husband Neil do a wonderful job in organising quizzes in support of different charities.  Although they usually take place at St Thomas’s, Simpson, or Simpson Village Hall, the next two are at different venues.  The first one – for the benefit of the Food Bank – will take place at THE HOLIDAY INN in Central Milton Keynes, on Saturday 11 March 2017, starting at 7.00pm.

The cost will be £8.00 per person.  A selection of savouries will be available on each table.  Please Note: You cannot bring your own drinks to this event!

If you would like to come along, please contact Pat at missquiz@sky.com or call 01908-644785.  Maximum 8 per table, but don’t be put off coming even if you’re on your own.  Pat does a great job of  putting people together.

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Christian Healing Mission Day at Whaddon Way Church: 4 November 2017

Want to know more about God’s healing?

Then ……


“Letting the Kingdom Come”


From 10am to 4pm

At Whaddon Way Church, Bletchley

Milton Keynes


A great day of teaching with the

Christian Healing Mission.

Please put this diary. Further information to follow.


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Make Lunch

A few years ago, the Vital Signs Report from the Community Foundation discovered that One in Five children in Milton Keynes live in poverty. Reading this shocking statistic propelled St Marks into action and has become for them a focal point of their ministry. One problem faced by many families struggling financially is known as “Holiday hunger”. Children who rely on their school for Breakfast and Lunch during term time find themselves going hungry during the school holidays. Families suddenly have more mouths to feed, more meals required, and no extra money to make this possible.

Initially starting in just Greenleys Junior school, St Mark’s provided a hot meal to 12 children in October Half-Term 2015. Pupils were invited to attend, and bring their families, for a delicious lunch, along with some craft and play activities and a cup of tea and chat for all adults.

Since then, the project has grown, expanding to operate in Greenleys, Fishermead, Netherfield and Simpson.
Volunteers have joined the team from across the city and the lunches have been supported by the Community Foundation, donations from supermarkets and Foodbank. One lunch venue is staffed entirely by a team from the Open University.

This February saw an increase in what was possible. Joining with MK food bank and Lantmannen bakers, we were able to offer Hot lunches on two days a week, and on each occasion also provide a ‘Meal Deal’ style bag full of bread, soup, biscuits, fruit, cereal, juice and milk to provide lunch and breakfast for a family on half-term dates during which Make Lunch wasn’t open. All this meant that we were able to provide an amazing 710 lunches.

The need is still massive, with more schools wanting to open kitchens as they are so aware of the difficulties some of their families are experiencing. Teachers are regularly buying and providing food for children arriving at school hungry, and Headteachers are well aware of just how much the education of a child suffers when chronic hunger is an issue.

We know that this is just the start and believe this to be an area where the church can take a lead across Milton Keynes in providing for, and caring for children.

Paul Oxley
St Mark’s MK

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