This won't be news to all of you, but by way of an explanation for the slow rate of blogging (which is likely to persist for the next couple of months), I have tidings of life, and broadly the tidings are that there is change afoot.
Most of you will know that I have been serving as a lay elder in Magdalen Road Church for some time. What you may or may not know is that for the last few years MRC has been working on establishing a church plant in the Cowley area of Oxford. That plant is Cowley Church Community, and since the beginning of January I and the family have been members - and I have been serving as one of two part-time pastors. At the moment I'm doing that alongside my full-time job at the University, but that job will be coming to an end at the end of March. CCC currently meets every other week on a Sunday, and in two mid-week groups. We're not yet independent of MRC, but we're working up to it, and part of that plan is that we'll be meeting every Sunday from Easter - hence my stepping away from the day job. I'm looking forward to being able to preach more regularly, and to having the time to put into getting to know people within the little church better - as well as getting to know the Cowley area and its residents better than I currently do. Although we live very near to Cowley, in some ways it is a very different part of Oxford, and there is definitely going to be some adjusting to do.
Alongside helping to lead CCC, I am back at school! Specifically, I have begun studying for an MA in Contemporary Church Leadership at WEST (or at least, it was called WEST when I enrolled; now it's part of the Union School of Theology - and what's more, the course I am doing has been dropped from the offerings of the new School, so if you thought you might also like to do that sort of course I'm afraid you're too late). The hope is that the combination of study and practical ministry will mean theory informing practice and practice being subjected to critical reflection - and therefore hopefully growth.
This feels like a huge, and yet decidedly daunting, opportunity. If you're the praying sort, we'd very much appreciate your prayers. We will be sending out proper 'prayer letters' shortly, so if you'd like one and you haven't already asked for one, do get in touch. In the meantime, the blog will be updated as and when there is time and energy...