Posts By: Graham Stacey

A flavour of the feast

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Nearly 200 people feasted on music, stories and food at the weekend.

Shipton Peal

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On 12 September a team of 8 ringers grabbed hold of a sally and rung for 3 hours 17 minutes.

5040 Grandsine Triples were rung as part of the 900 years celebrations at St Mary’s in Shipton under Wychwood.

Cotswold Mission 2014 Overview

Mission in the Wychwoods: What is being planned? Who will you bring along?

So far we have a whole host of ideas that have come out of conversations with people as well as looking at those things we do already.  There really should be something for everyone, and it would be great if every one of us committed to inviting a friend along to something. The team can do a great deal, but unless you invite your friends and neighbours, it will all be in vain. If there is something that you think would be good that is not here, suggest it!


Our monthly breakfast group will be welcoming one of the student team to share something about their journey in faith. We hope this will stimulate some lively conversation.

Sunday morning

Perhaps you have been meaning to ask that neighbour who comes at Christmas if they would like to come along another time. What about today?

Hope Street

The usual mix of story, song, fun and food but bigger.  It will be a lovely sunny day and we will have a bouncy castle and BBQ. Perhaps there is a family you know who you could bring along?

God and dog

You have probably noticed, there are a lot of people with dogs around here.  Sometimes conversation is much easier while you are walking along. Some of the team will be there to offer an opportunity to ask questions people have about life and faith in a non-threatening context.

Craft event

The Baptist church will be hosting a craft event, during which one of the team will give a brief thought about what difference their faith makes to their lives. Do you know some crafty people who might enjoy time with others to be creative and think about their faith?

12 Years a Slave

Highly acclaimed film exploring themes of liberty and personhood showing in Chipping Norton Theatre.  We will watch the film together followed by a discussion around those themes.

Coffee Club

Our Tuesday morning gathering has re launched as ‘Coffee Club’ in recognition of the fact that the papers didn’t really feature in their previous incarnation!  One of the team will be there to talk about the difference God has made in their life and will be ready to answer any questions that come up.

Great Cotswold Bake Off

With the massive popularity of the Bake Off, the concept is being used all over the place. In our school recently, the first round of their Bake Off saw nearly 80 entrants [and as vicar I am judge – cake as occupational hazard!] The Baptist church are hosting an event to see what our baking skills are like, so get baking!

God in poetry

There are so many wonderful poets inspired by their faith. An opportunity to share some of these and talk about what inspired them, and how they might inspire us.

‘The meaning of suffering’

A question Christians are asked, and ask so often, ‘If God is so loving, why is there suffering?’ Sharon Dirckx has researched this question and written a book, ‘Why’. This will be an excellent, thought provoking evening.

Hope Street fun day

We have thought of all sorts of things to do, but this will be a day where we ask the families and children what they would like to do… high risk but hopefully high fun!

Home group

Our usual Wednesday evening group are inviting the new principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, Rev’d Dr Michael Lloyd, to open up the readings we will be looking at the following Sunday.  As well as being an Oxford academic, Michael is very, very funny!

Seeker group

There are some in our communities who are just thinking about faith and what that might mean for them. This regular group will meet during our mission week, with one of the team there to answer questions and share stories of God in our lives.

Knitting Café

Ever popular, invite a friend to come along and get creative. Knitting, food and chat about God. Who do you know who might enjoy a knit with friends in the Baptist hall?

Afternoon tea

Our growing group of friends who meet for tea on a Thursday will be joined by one of the team who will share a brief thought about life and faith.  A low key, relaxed space to think about the most important things in life.

Friday Café

At the Baptist church. This is a lynch pin of community life, and during mission week it will take on another dimension, with lunch and a brief talk about faith.  If you have a friend who might appreciate the chance to hear more about Christianity, how about treating them to lunch?

God in art

Like the space to talk about poetry, artists throughout time have had much to say about God and faith.  This will be a space to look at some wonderful art and think about what they might be saying about the faith of the artist and how that might inform our own understanding of God.

Question of Sport

Henry Olonga, a former professional cricketer, and the youngest and first black cricketer to play Test cricket for Zimbabwe. His international career came to an end in 2003 after Olonga and a team mate wore black armbands during an international cricket match in the 2003 Cricket World Cup to “mourn the death of democracy” in Zimbabwe. Death threats forced him to live in exile in England. He will be here in the Wychwoods hosting ‘A question of Sport’ quiz with supper.  This will be an excellent evening, and great in a community who love cricket! Tickets will sell quickly, so buy one for you and a friend soon!

Coffee morning with music

Shipton will be having a coffee morning with live music on the Saturday of mission week.  As well as our own wonderful musicians, two of the team will be there who are concert musicians, so it will be a real treat.  Bring a neighbour to enjoy coffee, cake and wonderful music with a chance to consider what difference faith makes to life.

UB service

We will finish off the week with a Palm Sunday service all together. An opportunity to do something a bit different and to welcome those friends and neighbours we have shared the week with.

God and Science

The final event of the week will see John Lennox visiting Chipping Norton.  He is a mathematician and philosopher of science from Oxford University and has brilliantly debated with the likes of Richard Hawkins and Christopher Hitchens about science and new atheism.  For those friends who claim atheism as their faith or neighbours who wonder if science removes the need for faith, this is a must.

Alongside all of this, there will be opportunities for you to invite friends, neighbours and members of the team into your home for a meal or a coffee.  You may not feel you could talk about faith, but any of the team would be happy to share a couple of minutes of their own story of the difference God has made in their lives, giving a chance for people to ask their questions and share their own experiences.

In all of this, I pray that we would be bold and courageous, that we would recognise that the worst that could happen is someone says ‘no thanks’, and the best that could happen is someone finds out some more about who Jesus Christ is, and the love, peace and hope he can bring to their lives.

Idbury Harvest Festival

Idbury church celebrated Harvest last Sunday with a service and community lunch in a beautifully-decorated church.  Here are a few photos of the wonderful floral displays:

Summer Concert

Sunday 14th July, 4pm Shipton-under-Wychwood Church

Shipton choir and members of the congregation will be putting on a short concert of music and readings in Shipton church, followed by tea and cakes.  Admission is free, and all are welcome – please come and encourage others to as well!  If you’d like any more details, please contact Bernard West (831242).

First Wychwood Scouts

There had been a lot of interest in restarting the scout group in the Wychwoods and last Saturday we put it to the test. We opened the doors at the school to any family that wanted to come along and experience what happens at a scout meeting.

All morning we had a good flow of interested families, many entering with dubious looks on their faces but leaving full of enthusiasm. By the end of the morning we had signed up around forty youngsters between the ages of 6 and 10 enough to potentially start a Beaver Colony and a Cub Pack.

My concern was always that we would get the youngsters but not the parents to support us. Well the parents that came along didn’t disappoint and we have hopefully signed up enough to get things going. It was our intention to start the group off with experienced leaders  from within the District with local helpers assisting them; then to train our local team up to eventually take over. It looks like we have that core we were looking for.

Now the fun begins, we have to reinstate the group, it will again be the 1st Wychwoods Scout Group; sort out the evenings and times for the sessions; confirm venues; check clearances of new helpers and potential leaders; sort out subs; uniforms; colours of necker……………

All in all it was a great day and I for one was very pleased with the response from the villages. Our target now is to start the sessions after Easter so no pressure! I would like to thank those families who came along and showed interest. It has been 21 years since the original group closed, a lot has changed in the meantime, but the future looks bright.

For more information the contact is [email protected]

Chris Trotman – Group Chairman

Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature

The Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature is taking place from 15-17 February in Bloxham, north of Chipping Norton..

Described as a ‘literary festival with a theological slant’, the title of this year’s festival is ‘Devices and desires’ – a look at the interplay of good and evil in fiction, poetry, art and, for the first time, dance. The programme includes writers in conversation, as well as four major seminars: on values in the City; vicarage life; our curious love affair with crime fiction; and devices and desires in the media.
For more information, see the Festival website.

The difference our faith makes

Bishop Colin preaching

On 18th November, we were pleased to welcome Bishop Colin to lead a confirmation service at Shipton church.  As part of their preparation, the two groups of confirmation candidates wrote some notes about what their faith means to them, and these were used as part of the service.

The difference my Christian faith makes: Young Persons’ Confirmation Group

Our Christian faith helps us to be caring people, recognising other people as your brother and sister, and so feel more protective of them.

Our Christian faith helps us to be helpful and more giving.  It encourages us to help everyone we know.

We are not alone, we have someone to talk to always.

Our Christian faith helps us to be more hospitable; I don’t like being left out, so I don’t leave others out.

We can see some of the gifts we have been given by the Spirit, of creativity, faith, hospitality, giving and caring.

Our Christian faith makes us feel special, different and safer.

However, our Christian faith can feel hard, because we want to fit in.


The difference my Christian faith means to me: Adult Confirmation Group

Our Christian faith helps us to reflect on life and the group has given us room for our spiritual well being.  It helps us to think about a wide range of issues in the world and gives a framework to ponder things, discerning what would be the Christian way and making good choices.

Our Christian faith gives us courage.

We know there is someone, there is God, we can turn to at difficult times.

Our Christian faith encourages us to be less selfish and more giving.

We want to live lives that can model a life of faith to others.

It gives us hope.  We can trust God and believe God will help.

The group has given us the chance to grow and reminded us about the Christian faith.

We have found strength in belonging and being part of a community, and touched that desire to belong.

It has been refreshing to be part of a group offering friendship, openness and honesty.

It has helped me recognise our gifts; for instance, a patient, caring person with a lot to give.

We have learned from the bible and how it relates to our lives.

Our Christian faith inspires us to be better people and gives our lives purpose.

And finally… food is a really important part of our group and our faith!

The Vote in General Synod

This morning, I woke to torrential rain and a terrible sinking feeling that the nightmare of the night before was actually reality.

Yesterday, 20 November 2012, General Synod said ‘no’ to the legislation that would allow women to be bishops.  Or at least that is what the headlines say.  In reality, an overwhelming majority of General synod said ‘yes’ to the legislation – 73%, reflecting the vote of the diocese, where 42 of the 44 said yes. The vote was carried in the house of bishops and the house of laity, and was only lost by 6 votes in the house of laity.  Such are the workings of the government of the Church of England that ends the hopes that we could move on from this argument now.

Some lay members of our churches have asked me, ‘who are these laity who are supposed to be representing me!’  It is a good question. The reality is, somewhere along the way General Synod seems to have lost the idea that each elected person is there to express the views of their diocese, and over recent times there has been a significant move towards a place where people are there to represent their ‘tribe’.  Those who enter into synod in this way are dishonouring the people they should be representing, dishonouring the church and dishonouring God.  When election of a new General Synod comes around, I hope that we as churches in this benefice will have some healthy debate and be inspired to get involved in the process.

I heard some of the 100+ speeches made, and those opposed to women’s ministry spoke of both tradition and scripture. This is difficult ground to inhabit. Of course, slavery, stoning people to death, and child abuse, along with subordination of women, can all be argued from our scripture and tradition. And they are all abhorrent and wrong. What is more, none of these things can be sustained when we look to Jesus.  He welcomed children, challenged stoning, preached that all are free and was radical in his treatment of women.  We serve a living God, and we continually discover more about our God – to say otherwise is to diminish who God is.

Personally, the vote yesterday is a devastating blow. It undermines my ministry and says to me that I am second-class. But more than that, it breaks my heart for the message it sends out and the brilliant leaders it means we miss out on as a church.

Please do pray, for softer hearts, for an openness to what our God is doing in our time, and for great wisdom for ++Rowan and +Justin, and for all of us, as we seek to move on.

With love, Kate