Call to Prayer

The Presidents of Churches Together in England, together with our partners Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, are calling the churches to prayer as we approach the date when the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union.

From Wednesday 27th March to Sunday 31st March the Presidents urge churches in our nation to find ways to pray, and to enable church buildings to be opened for any in their communities seeking a space for prayer. Churches Together in England supports every opportunity for local churches to pray together and urges Churches Together Groups and other expressions of Christian unity to take hold of this moment to pray together for our nations.
This builds on other calls to prayer from member churches over recent months and reflects the increasing urgency of the moment as Brexit approaches.
In particular, we suggest that as the Presidents of Churches Together in England and other church leaders meet to pray at 10.30 am on Saturday 30th March in central London, churches throughout the nations may wish to join in similar expressions of prayerful concern for the future of the peoples and nations in the British Isles and Ireland, and beyond, during that morning.
Rev’d Dr. Paul Goodliff
General Secretary, Churches Together in England
26th February 2019

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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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Guidance on Marriage of European Economic Area Nationals – Post 29 March 2019

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. Current guidance from the Home office with regard to the situation after that date is that it is not intending to make changes immediately post Brexit to the way European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals are able to marry in the UK, though the situation may change in 2020 following consultation with all interested parties.

This means all EEA nationals can continue to be married by Banns or Common Licence for at least the remainder of 2019, assuming the couple has a legal link to the parish or church, either under the Marriage Act 1949 (residence in the parish or membership of the Electoral Roll of the church) or the Marriage Measures 2008 and 2012 (by way of qualifying connection).

For further guidance on this (and on qualifying connections), Deanery information leaflets are available to download and can be found in the Document Library under the Information tab.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Guidance on all legal matters can be found in the legal section of the Diocesan website (

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Free Advice and Training for Online Communication

Free advice and training for parishes and organizations within the Diocese is available for all things related to online communication, including websites and social media. Sessions are available to book and take place at Church House Oxford.

  • These sessions are not just intended for individuals but also cater to small groups. They can be tailored to your needs, but areas that might be of interest include:
  • Help planning and developing a new website (or reviewing your current one).
  • Design advice (user friendliness, mobile friendliness, helpful widgets and plugins).
  • Introduction to content management.
  • Search engine optimization… getting listed higher and improving the quality of your search engine listing.
  • Using Google resources: Webmaster Tools, Maps, Google Analytics, Google Local.
  • Writing a compelling Wikipedia entry.
  • Making the most of ‘A Church Near You’.
  • Creating e-newsletters (e.g. Mailchimp) or surveys.
  • Creating better photographs and graphics for the web.
  • Creating and sharing videos on Youtube, Vimeo.
  • Streaming video.
  • Creating podcasts and using Soundcloud for audio files.
  • Sharing files with Dropbox, Google Drive etc.
  • Setting up private discussion areas (e.g. Secret Facebook groups, Yammer).
  • Gaining a foothold on social networks, (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).
  • Introduction to Adobe Creative Cloud (Dreamweaver, Photoshop, In Design, Premiere etc.).
  • Demystifying web databases.

To discuss your needs and to book a slot please contact or

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£18,454 Raised in 2018 Alone!

A magnificent £18,454 has been raised by Pat and Neil Hodges through their quizzes and other fundraising charitable events this year. What a brilliant total! However, added to the grand total since Neil started keeping records in 2011, they have managed to raise an eye-watering £103,685.

The bulk of the money has been raised from quiz nights in Simpson Village Hall, but some has come along via Church events and quiz nights in the MK area that Simpson folk attend and support.  A long list of charities have been helped through these events, many of them local, including humanitarian, medical, environmental and children’s causes, but also animal charities, plants for the village, a water bore project in Kenya helping thousands of people to get fresh water, the arts, the RNLI and medical detection dogs.  Some of the money raised has also gone to St Thomas’s Church.

Modest as always, Pat reflects that it has been a joint effort with all those who bake, supply raffle prizes, make teas, set up and most importantly come along and support the events. However, we all know that without Pat and Neil’s hard work, initiative and leadership, not to mention the amount of time they dedicate to these events, they simply would not happen.

Pat gives credit to others who have also held fund-raising events in the village, but she doesn’t have details of the proceeds of these.

For the past 2 years, MK Deanery has also benefitted through the Deanery quizzes Pat and Neil have organised, which has enabled us to work with Citizens:MK. We are indebted to Pat and Neil, not just for the money raised, but also for the fun we’ve had in the process.

A huge thank you must go to Pat and Neil for their generosity of time and their commitment to helping others in need.  Over and above that magnificent fundraising total, it’s the community itself which benefits from their caring and involvement, and no amount of money can buy that.

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Happy Christmas

It’s all about Jesus!

I know this can be a busy time of year, with an endless round of events, preparation and activity. Many people are trying to get things done before going on holiday, so there’s a flurry of last minute activity. Others are travelling – or trying to travel.  For many of us there are sad or happy memories to deal with…

In the midst of all this, I know that you’ll be singing carols or telling the Christmas story again.  I’m reflecting on how important it is to keep Jesus at the centre of what we do, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year – whatever is going on around us…

It is Jesus who proclaims that the Kingdom of Heaven is near – a message of transforming hope in a broken world…

It is Jesus who shows us how to live with integrity and love – and challenges us to follow his lead…

It is Jesus who sends the Holy Spirit so we can be what God want us to be – a gift of grace not a job list…

It is Jesus who points the way to reconciliation and a new beginning…

It is Jesus who walks with the refugee, the homeless person, the hungry and the lost…

 It is Jesus who call us forward into a new year…

Whatever you are doing this Christmas, I pray that you will be drawn deeper into the life of Jesus – both in the Church and in the World.

Many blessings to you!


Looking ahead to 2019, there are a few things coming up…

Celebrate and Bless MK: The Diocesan strategy for Milton Keynes will be taking shape. There will be significant discussions at Deanery Chapter and Deanery Synod, so make sure you engage…

Deanery Lunches:  There is another round of Deanery Lunches (and an evening meal) coming up. Book now for January 15thJanuary 24thJanuary 31stFebruary 11th, or February 28th

Affordable Housing: I’m currently looking for people who will be willing to help with the Community Land Trust. There’s a new article about this on the web site

Understanding Mental Health: You may also want to check out the latest update from the UMH Team

Organising for Growth: You are probably aware that I’m fairly keen on Community Organising and see it as a useful tool for churches as they seek to grow in depth, impact and numbers.  There’s a brief article about Organising for Growth on the web site, and we have a training day for Church leaders on March 25th.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg of course. There is so much going on in Milton Keynes, so I hope you have a quiet-ish New Year and a very blessed 2019.

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Organising for Growth

Milton Keynes has become a significant centre for work on Community Organising.  Since we set up Citizens MK in 2010 we have learned a lot about how community organising can help us make a difference in our city.  We’ve brought diverse communities together, welcomed refugees, got businesses to sign up to the Real Living Wage and spoken out about Hate Crime.  It’s been exciting to make a difference rather than just talk about making a difference…

Community Organising is good for serving our communities, but there is also a lot of evidence that it can help grow churches – in depth, impact and numbers.  In London, there has been a lot of work on “congregational development” and a number of churches have been recognised as “Resource Churches” because of the way they have used organising to grow their congregations.

The Centre for Theology and Community in East London is based at St George-in-the-East where Fr Angus Ritchie both teaches and practices community organising from a Christian perspective.  There’s a great YouTube video that tells their story:

One of the important strands that have shaped Community Organising in the UK and US has been the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.  These remind us that it is the values that we hold that shape our action.  Churches therefore have something to offer beyond an extra pair of hands. The ten principles of Catholic Social Teaching are:

  1. Dignity of the Human Person 
  2. Common Good and Community 
  3. Option for the Poor
  4. Rights and Responsibilities 
  5. Role of Government and Subsidiarity 
  6. Economic Justice  
  7. Stewardship of God’s Creation 
  8. Promotion of Peace and Disarmament 
  9. Participation 
  10. Global Solidarity and Development

Bishop Adrian Newman spoke about Catholic Social Teaching at the National Deaneries Network Conference this year.  Bp Adrian was Bishop of Stepney and a trustee of Citizens UK.  His parents also lived in Milton Keynes in their later days. His talk is one of the most downloaded videos on the NDN web site:

During the past year, Fr Angus and Bp Adrian have been working with Matthew Bolton (now Executive Director of Citizens UK) to run a series of three symposiums on the three quinquennial goals of the Church of England:

  1. Serving the Common Good
  2. Growing the Church
  3. Re-imagining Ministry

I was lucky enough to be at two of these – alongside people from MK and Oxford Diocese.  It was encouraging to hear how churches have been addressing these challenges using the techniques and principles which are at the heart of organising.  From my perspective, I am encouraged by the fact we have a model which is rooted in theology, while presenting a radical alternative to the managerial-leadership model often assumed as the only option for growing churches…

In Milton Keynes, we have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to the potential of organising as a tool for Church growth.  I’ve been using some form of organising for over twenty years and really love the insights that I’m learning from the Citizens family.  I use the skills I’ve learned every day, and am a big fan.  I am struck by the model of “pastor as organiser” and it’s the way I try to operate.  Most of the time it wouldn’t be obvious to others but I know how significant it has been for me.

John Robertson has been running a course called “Leading for a Change” which follows the pattern of a two-day course in Community Organising.  This course has been specifically designed to equip lay leaders, and the feed-back has been pretty good.  A key element to this course is the concept of Salvation History and the way God invites us to join him in a mission of transformation – both within the Church and the World.

I’m really keen that we take these ideas to the next level.  Milton Keynes is already a leader when it comes to organising in the UK, but I’d like us to be a front-runner when it comes to organising for church growth.  I think this is something that we could excel in – and offer to the wider church.  

I suspect some people think this is just another “initiative” or short-lived “fad” but I genuinely believe that there are important lessons from organising which would help us build a more Christ-like Church.

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Affordable Housing – MKCLT

The affordability of housing is one of the biggest drivers of social problems in the UK today.

A shortage of genuinely affordable housing means that young people have to stay with their parents until they’re in their mid-thirties, working families need to use food banks and more people are becoming homeless. This leads to greater inequality, reduced opportunities and a whole range of problems for individuals and society as a whole.

The Biblical story has a lot to say about “home” and “hospitality”. The story of Israel is a story of a people who are promised a safe place where they can thrive and prosper – but it is also to be a place of hospitality for the orphans, the widows and strangers – those who are marginalised or left behind.

We have made affordable housing one of our top priorities as a deanery. This could seem like a huge issue that is beyond our reach, but there are things that we can do – particularly if we work with others.

Working through Citizens MK, our Area Dean, Tim Norwood, has helped to set up a project group who are aiming to set up a Community Land Trust in Milton Keynes. For more information, see

Tim is currently looking for church members who will join the team and embed Christian values of hospitality and social justice at the heart of this project.

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Summary of Bishop Steven’s Letter.

As MPs and Lords continue to debate Britain’s exit from the European Union, the Bishop of Oxford is challenging them to put aside the four temptations of self-interest, pursuit of short term power, nostalgia and idealism. In an open letter. the Rt Revd. Dr Steven Croft says MPs and peers must deal with the world as it is, not as they would like it to be. and steer a course accordingly.

“The Brexit debate has been marred from the beginning by the narrow calculation of those hoping to gain or retain high office,” writes Bishop Steven. “Nothing has undermined trust in our politics more than the unsavoury smell of this ambition which is apparent to all… [it’s time] to seek meaningful compromise and to act for the common good.”

The full text of the letter can be read at

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Understanding Mental Health

Understanding Mental Health (UMH) is one of the 3 top priority projects selected by Deanery Synod members following the meeting in May. 

The team comprises members from 4 churches, but as 3 of these are in ecumenical partnerships, 17 churches are effectively already involved, as well as the Chaplaincy at MK University Hospital.

Much work has already been done over the past 9 months defining a strategy for the next few years, as well as continuing to do research and build relationships with other groups.  (The strategy document is available for downloading from the Documents section of this website, under the ‘Information’ tab.  This gives details of the group’s vision, Mission Action Plan (MAP) and Objectives.)

At the recent Synod meeting on 14 November, churches were asked to provide details of groups and services they already offer which people with mental health issues could engage with.  UMH hope to use this information to create a directory which can be accessed across Milton Keynes by churches and other groups.  In the meantime the team will be looking at specific goals for the next few months.

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