‘WithIN’ – A Conference on Everyday Faith: Tuesday 8 October 2019

This conference is a Watling Valley Ecumenical Partnership (WVEP) initiative in conjunction with the Diocese of Oxford and HeartEdge/St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The name “WithIN” refers to being WITH God, IN the world.  The keynote speaker will be the Revd Sam Wells.

The day session will start at 9.30am with worship led by the St Martin’s Singers, and will end between 5-5.30pm.  An evening session has been planned for those unable to attend during the day.  This will start at approximately 6.30pm with worship by Testament, and end by 9.15pm.  It is hoped that exhibitions and stalls will be available for folk to look at between 5 – 6.30pm.

As well as having a keynote speaker, there will be a variety of workshops to choose from, looking at the various aspects of everyday spirituality and aiming to be practical, accessible and fun. There will even be a workshop that teachers may find useful.  Workshop leaders include  Barry Lotz, Ruth Maxey, Jonathan Evens (HeartEdge, St  Martin’s), Charlie Kerr (Diocese), and Tina Molyneux (Diocese).

WVEP expects the day to be free, although donations would be welcomed. Tea/coffee/Lunch will be provided, as well as light refreshments in the early evening.  Lunchtime will include ‘Great Sacred Music’ with Sam Wells and the St Martin’s Singers.

Booking is via Eventbrite. All are welcome, and WVEP hopes to encourage a wide range of participation.

Please advertise this event as widely as possible!

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World Refugee Day

You are Welcome!

Thursday June 20th: To celebrate World Refugee Day meet us at 6pm at the MK Rose in Campbell Park for a short ‘gathering’. Deputy Mayor Andrew Geary to attend.

 6.30pm onwards at MK Gallery event space (short, accessible walk from the Rose) for informal celebration, conversation, nibbles and soft drinks.

Come to both or either.

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Good News About Benjamin!

If you read my previous article about Benjamin and the power of touch, you will probably have been wondering how he is. I’m thrilled and delighted to be able to report that eventually he got the results of his bladder biopsy, and this showed that it was clear. On top of the good news that the cancer has not returned to the organs previously affected (so he can still keep his remaining kidney), this is just wonderful news. Thank you all for your prayers. God has used him in a powerful way, for which we give thanks and praise.

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CHRISTIAN AID WEEK: 12 – 18 MAY 2019

Christian Aid Week runs from 12 – 18 May this year.

To quote from the Christian Aid website:-

“Everyone is equal in the sight of God. Yet we live in a world where poverty still persists.  Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of their dignity and lets injustice thrive. But together we have the power to transform lives.

For over 70 years, we’ve been standing with the poorest of our neighbours. We work in 37 countries, with people of all faiths and none, to stand up for dignity, equality and justice. 

Together we can create a world where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty.

Our voices and actions are stronger together. And with your help, we can make an even bigger difference.”

Together with its supporters and partners, Christian Aid aims:
  • to expose poverty throughout the world
  • to help in practical ways to end it
  • to highlight, challenge and change the structures and systems that favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised.

Christian Aid supports and helps communities to thrive. It tackles the root causes of poverty so that women, men and children the world over are strengthened against future knocks. And if disasters happen, they get people the help they want straight away.

What is your church doing this year?  For ideas, please visit the Christian Aid website at https://www.christianaid.org.uk/Christian-Aid-Week.

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Conducting Occasional Services at HMP Woodhill After November 2019

The Rev Canon Alan Hodgetts (Managing Chaplain at HMP Woodhill) is retiring in November of this year. He is wondering if there are clergy in the Deanery or wider MK area who might have an interest in conducting occasional services at 10.30am on Sunday mornings after this date. If so, he is more than happy for you to email him directly at alan.hodgetts@hmps.gsi.gov.uk with an expression of interest.

There are 2 levels of clearance: A basic clearance will allow 3 visits per annum and the priest/minister would be supervised; A full clearance would allow several visits and more flexibility.

Expenses would be paid and for retired clergy a ‘sessional’ arrangement may be possible.

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Action Counters Terrorism: Awareness eLearning

ACT Awareness eLearning will provide nationally recognised corporate CT guidance to help industry better understand, and mitigate against, current terrorist methodology.

The following eLearning Modules are available:

  1. Introduction to Terrorism
  2. Identifying Security Vulnerabilities
  3. How to Identify and Respond to Suspicious Behaviour
  4. How to Identify and Deal with a Suspicious Item
  5. What to do in the Event of a Bomb Threat
  6. How to Respond to a Firearms or Weapons attack
  7. Summary and Supporting Materials

You will be provided with your own corporate URL link and PIN to immediately access the online version.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register?

To register please visit: https://ct.highfieldelearning.com/

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Service of Remembrance and Prayer for Sri Lanka

I’m sure everyone has been shocked and horrified by the carnage and senseless lost of life on Easter Sunday, 21 April.  Our own Rev Dr Sam Muthuveloe, Convenor of Hope Outreach UK,  has arranged a special service, to be held at Christ the Cornerstone Church this coming Sunday, 28th April 2019, starting at 2.30 pm, to remember the dead, pray for the bereaved, healing for the wounded, comfort for the distressed and peace and security for all.

‘Dr Sam’ had already planned to visit Sri Lanka in mid-May, before these atrocities took place.  The intention was – and still is – to commemorate 10 years since the cessation of hostilities, and to support and encourage Hope Outreach UK’s mission partners.  The focus of the visit will be to stand in solidarity with them and the local churches at this difficult time.

Please advertise this service as widely as you can.  Thank you.

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Celebrate and Bless Milton Keynes

“Celebrate and Bless MK” (CBMK) is a strand of the Common Vision being developed by Oxford Diocese. It reflects Bishop Steven’s desire to focus a greater degree of attention on the “city” of Milton Keynes at a key point in time as it transforms from large new town to high-impact regional centre. We have a strategic opportunity to act in a way that celebrates all that has been achieved while blessing the first-fruits of new growth.

Download the Proposal: Download

Download a summary: Download

The current proposal sets out some of the unique opportunities and challenges that exist in the city at this time – while offering a vision for mission that addresses the challenge of MK50. It is particularly important that the Church of England engages with our partners in other denominations as we develop strategies and new ideas – particularly where we have covenanted to travel together.

The main focus of the paper is on church growth – and we see this in terms of depth, impact and numbers. It is important that we respond to the rapid and continuous growth of the city, and this will mean the nurture of new Christian Disciples who will serve the common good and seek an ever-deeper relationship with Christ. We want a more Christ-like church which is able to meet the challenges that the city will face over the next fifty years – particularly amongst those who are disadvantaged or left behind.

In order to drive this growth, we will seek to invest in prayer, leadership and learning. We want to increase the number of worshipping communities as a way of reaching more people and serving the needs of the city.

Our specific need is for seed-money to fund leaders who will grow worshipping communities. Milton Keynes Deanery had previously been asked to reduce the number of ministers deployed here while the population continued to grow. We therefore developed more sustainable patterns of ministry and invested (where possible) in new worshipping communities. We believe that there is now a need for fresh investment if we are to meet the immense challenge that the future presents.

We will be asking the Diocese of Oxford and the Strategic Development Fund (SDF) to seed-fund posts that increase our local leadership capacity. This investment will help us to grow existing churches and plant new worshipping communities. We intend that this investment will be split between full-time, part-time, ordained and lay ministry.

There are four options that we want people to consider. These will affect the balance of investment between different new posts:

The next stage of our local process will be to engage with a very wide group of people – including our ecumenical partners, parishes, and leaders. We want to know what people think about the direction of travel set out in this document and how they might want to engage with this agenda.

We are asking five questions at this stage:

  1. What do you find positive in this proposal? Which ideas would you encourage us to pursue?
  2. What do you find challenging, uncomfortable or unclear? What issues would like us to think about?
  3. Is your parish/partnership likely to put in an application for additional investment? If so, can you let us know what ideas you might have?
  4. What learning needs do you have in your church/parish?
  5. Which of the four “options” do you think we should adopt? Why do you think it’s the best option?

We are on a tight time-scale, so we want your feedback by Palm Sunday 14th April 2018. Please send feedback to CBMK@mkdeanery.org or fill in the online feedback form.

A proposal will go to Bishops Council which will hopefully become part of a bid for funds from both the Diocese and the National Church. It is possible that national money will be released through a Strategic Development Fund grant which will need to be match-funded by the Diocese.

In the Summer/Autumn of 2019, we will go back to parishes and encourage applications for specific projects. We will work with parishes to help identify the best opportunities for new development, and we will firm these proposals up by the end of the year.

It is hoped that some resources will be released in 2020, but the full amount may not be available until sometime later.

Thank you for taking the time to read this paper. We appreciate your time, and look forward to hearing your ideas. Please keep praying for Milton Keynes as we seek to build a more Christlike church here for the sake of God’s World.

Tim Norwood (on behalf of the Steering Group)

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DLT Report – March 2018

The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the eight Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership. The Standing Committee meets monthly to manage the regular meetings of the Deanery.

Without doubt, the biggest thing on the horizon for the Deanery is the Diocesan strategy for Milton Keynes: Celebrate and Bless MK (CBMK for short). This has been developing over the past two years, but is now becoming more concrete. There is now a definite proposal on the table which is out for consultation. Please take advantage of this opportunity, because there are some real opportunities for new mission and growth.

CBMK will focus on growth in depth, impact and numbers. There will be an emphasis on prayer, training for leadership and funds to kick-start new posts. There should be opportunities for most of our parishes to benefit directly in some way, so please don’t miss out.

The key question that is being asked between now and Palm Sunday focusses on the balance between lay and ordained ministry. Where should the bulk of new funding go? These are crucial questions that need careful thought, so please let us know what you think…

The new school in Eagle Farm

The Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC) has been focussing on how we can find a pioneer minister for Eagle Farm. They have put forward a proposal for a new post as part of our existing ministry numbers. This has the support of the Archdeacon, and will now go forward to the Archdeaconry Mission and Pastoral Committee (AMPC). Assuming this is successful, the new post should start in 2020.

The new pioneer will build a new worshipping community on the very Eastern corner of the city, with a focus on St Mary’s School – which is being moved from Wavendon village to Eagle Farm. A team has already been formed to lead this work.

Please pray for the team and the appointment of the new pioneer.

Rev Neil Popham at his licensing service

On January 31st Neil Popham was licensed as Interim Minister in the Stantonbury Team. Neil will be serving as the minister of Bradwell Church and leading a review of Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership. This is an exciting post which will help shape the mission of SEP over the coming years. Please pray for Neil and the team as they start this work…

Revd Martha McInnes has started work as the new chaplain of Willen Hospice. Martha was formally welcomed at a service at Willen church on the 17th January. Please pray for her and the other staff at the hospice.


Work is continuing on our three Deanery Priorities. The “Understanding Mental Health” group has been making huge progress on research and has built strong relationships with key agencies and power-holders. The “Sanctuary” group is developing some ideas about how churches can make a difference. There is no “Affordable Housing” group as such (yet) but Tim took part in a video project which will be part of an exhibit in the new Art Gallery.

There has been an exciting development in our work with refugees. A house has been offered for “community sponsorship” in Wolverton. “Community Sponsorship” is a new approach to welcoming refugees which puts a local community group in the driving seat. It has huge potential – partly because it creates better community links for the family as they arrive. A group from the Wolverton churches has already formed and is working towards an application…

At the time of writing, it’s still not clear when, how, or even if, the UK will be leaving the EU. There are calls for prayer from all the Christian denominations in the UK and materials available. Please pray for unity, peace and a focus on the common good.

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Benjamin, and the Power of Touch

Luke 8:46. “But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” (NIV)

Let me tell you about Benjamin.  I want to do that because Benjamin’s faith has touched me deeply, and in a way few others have ever done.

I first met Benjamin a year or so ago on a couple of day courses at Oxford. It’s hard to remember exactly, because you see I feel I’ve always known him. Openly friendly, engaging, always smiling, easy to be around, he made everyone feel comfortable.

I started a new course in January, and was delighted to find Benjamin there – smiling the same as ever. However, a few weeks ago, he wasn’t there, and his absence felt strange and tangible. He was supposed to be leading the worship, but a friend explained that though Benjamin had written the worship, he was unable to be there because he had had a pre-operational assessment for surgery earlier in the day at Churchill Hospital in Oxford. The surgery was a bladder biopsy scheduled for the week-end. There was blood in his urine and the diagnosis had pointed towards kidney or bladder cancer.  Cancer? What cancer?! I never knew, because Benjamin was always – well – Benjamin, and I had only seen him occasionally, whereas now we’re on a 10 week course together. The friend explained that Benjamin was as strong as ever, but that he was having tests. She said he was ready to meet the Lord whenever that hour should come, but he was equally ready to stay the course if God needed him here. He had asked us to pray – not just for himself, but for all the people he’d met who were going through this situation totally alone. And so we did.

On 5 February Benjamin was back, looking the same as ever. There are no outward signs that he has ever had this devastating disease, yet at the end of the evening he courageously stood and told everyone that in the past five years he has had kidney, prostate, and testicular cancer, plus the recurrence of prostate cancer, and now his urologist says there is threat of cancer in his bladder or remaining kidney. Benjamin spoke powerfully of his willingness to leave whenever the Lord was ready to take him, but that he would stay and serve as long as God had work for him to do. He spoke of the power of touch, and the ability of all of us to heal in the way spoken of and demonstrated by Jesus, and he asked people to touch him with hugs, or a pat as they felt able. I held his hand as we gathered round to pray for him. Afterwards there was a queue in the corridor as everyone lined up to give him a hug and offer him words of encouragement or another prayer. Yet it was Benjamin’s faith that radiated its light over us, not the other way around; light which grew brighter as he spoke of the call to be compassionate, contemplative and courageous. Benjamin was still smiling as I left.

On the drive to Oxford that night there was a programme on the radio about the power of human touch. (God never fails to show His presence!) The presenter spoke of people whose vocation is to be ‘baby-cuddlers’, and the difference this makes to babies who are in hospital. One man had taken on the role of ‘hugging grandad’ to terminally ill children. Another lady spoke of the thing she missed most when her husband died – hugs and cuddles.

Human touch is vital for our wellbeing and survival. Without it babies have ‘failure to thrive’ – a recognised condition. As our culture changes, and at such a rapid pace, this basic human need is being neglected at a huge cost, not just to the NHS but to society. These days we’ve almost become afraid to touch one another for fear of its being misinterpreted. I pray that Benjamin’s words will encourage all of us to think about what it means to have this kind of close human contact – love and compassion given freely and courageously, as God intended and as He gives to us.

This week Benjamin received a letter from his Consultant Urologist regarding his MRI that was part of the assessments. The letter started “This is Good News!” This is a highly confident and wholly irregular proclamation medically speaking. It is divine. God’s hand was even on the letter! Though Benjamin is still awaiting the bladder biopsy results, the MRI indicates his kidney and other previously affected areas are healthy and remain cancer free. Oh the power of prayer and the power of touch! Pray for Benjamin – for his faith to continue to shine in the dark places; for his hugs to bring God’s love, comfort and hope to the lost, lonely and frightened, and most of all that God’s hands through ours, will continue to touch Benjamin and bring him peace and joy.

(Permission granted by Benjamin to use his name, and write as I feel moved to do.)

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