The two tier charging system which has been in place for a number of years for obtaining copies of entries in the Marriage Register (£4 at the time of registration and £10 thereafter) has been changed with effect from 16 February 2019. A standard fee of £11.00 should now be charged regardless of when the application is made for one or more Marriage Certificates.

Couples who have already booked their marriage services (and those enquiring) should be informed of this change as soon as possible, so that they are aware of the statutory increase in the fee, as the Table of Parochial Fees has yet to be amended on the Church of England website.

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Challenging the Church on Fossil Fuel Investment

Bishop Steven appeared on the Today programme on 5 July to talk about the Oxford Diocesan Synod amendment on fossil fuel investment, which is being debated at General Synod TODAY.

The Issue: Should the Church of England continue to invest in fossil fuel companies in the light of the Paris Agreement on climate change?

In 60 seconds…

Where we invest affects the credibility of the leadership we offer as a church. We believe that the Church of England should not be profiting from fossil fuel investment that’s misaligned with global climate targets.

During a motion being debated NOW at General Synod, the Diocese of Oxford will call on the Church to begin to divest from any fossil fuel company which ‘is not on an unequivocal path by 2020 to aligning its business investment plan with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change’… We think that gives plenty of time for the fossil fuel companies we invest in to make serious changes to their plans and intentions.

(For further information, please see Bishop Steven’s blog on this important topic at

You can also find further information on Facebook at

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If so, you might be able to do something about it by joining your Local Authority committee that oversees religious education in Milton Keynes.

Each local authority has a SACRE (Standing Advisory Committee for Religious Education). More can be found through the following websites:-

Milton Keynes SACRE:

National SACRE website

RE is in danger of being sidelined by government pressure on schools to give increasing attention to the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, whilst other subjects which enrich life such as the expressive arts, other humanities and religious education get squeezed out. However local children are crying out for time given to the more enriching subjects including religious education, ethics and morality. The success of MK Youth SACRE, headed up by an award-winning RE teacher at Denbigh, Shammi Rahman, indicates the importance that children place on spending school time on areas of faith and belief.

MK Deanery is looking for two individuals to join the other two Anglican reps. (You do not have to be an Anglican, just be approved by the Deanery Synod as Anglican reps!) The commitment is to attend our once termly meetings which last for only an hour and a half during “twilight” hours. SACRE is made up of reps from other faiths, teachers and local councillors.

For more information, please contact me, Rev Paul Smith (Chair of MK SACRE). We always invite interested reps to attend one of our termly meetings to see what we’re like before deciding whether to join!

Contact details: Tel: (1908) 606689. E-mail:

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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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Chapter Communion Brings Clergy Together

By popular request we’ve started a new monthly Deanery Chapter Communion. Once a month, the clergy of Milton Keynes will gather at St Mary’s in Shenley Church End to break bread and share a few sandwiches…

The first one took place on Wednesday 18th January. The New Testament Reading for the day reminded us of the priesthood of Christ – which defines our own priestly ministries.

It was also good to pray together – both for the churches of MK and our colleagues.

Sharing sandwiches obviously gave us an opportunity to share news (gossip?) and find out what’s been going on in the Deanery.

All in all, it felt like a worth-while hour together.

See events for future dates and times.

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Deanery Chapter Communion

Deanery Chapter is the gathering of ordained clergy in our area. It used to meet monthly but this became difficult, so we moved to having three meetings a year – one with a bishop or archdeacon, one with a speaker, and one as a summer social.

Anglican clergy in Milton Keynes have a range of different working patterns. Some are part of big teams and have weekly, or monthly, staff or team meetings. Others are on their own. Some work in ecumenical partnerships. Some are under alternative episcopal oversight. It’s hard to have Chapter meetings that suit everyone…

In July some members asked if we could try a monthly communion service followed by a sandwich lunch. We’ve looked into this and will try the idea over the first half of 2017.

We’re going to use St Mary’s in Shenley Church End – because it’s reasonably central, has good parking and we can get in easily. We’ll be meeting on (roughly) the second Wednesday of each month at 12 noon. If it works well, we may extend the plan.

Please pray for our ministers in their very different parishes and ministeries.

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