On Saturday 18th June, over 100 Christians from 20 churches in Oxford gathered for our first Renew Oxford event. Through a range of talks, interviews and breakout groups – all accompanied with prayer – we explored three key questions:
- What is? What are the needs of our city, and how are churches currently making a difference?
- What could be? What might be possible if we worked together and prayed together for the good of our city?
- What will be? How can we develop a vision for our sector and our city? And what next steps is God asking us to take?
In the coming weeks and months we will begin forming some plans, and will have information to share about next steps and some future initiatives. The best way to stay up to date is to join our Facebook page, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. But in the meantime, if you missed the day and want to catch up, or just want to rewatch a session, here are all the recordings, slides and recommended resources:
1 – What is: Understanding the needs of our city
In this first session we heard from various contributors, who helped us to better understand the current needs of our city, as well as celebrating some of the ways Christians and churches have served the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contributors: Steve Jones, Josh Kay, Matt Chapman, Bishop Memory Tapfumeneyi, David Munday and Joe Kidman.
Some of the websites mentioned in this video include:
- Oxfordshire Insight
- Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Champions Network
- Restored – Domestic abuse awareness training for churches
We also recommended the following books:
- Christian Social Innovation by L. Gregory Jones
- The Spirit of Christ and the Postmodern City by Viv Grigg
2 – What could be: An interview with Marvin Rees
In this second video we hear a conversation between Steve Jones (Senior Pastor of Oxford Community Church) and Marvin Rees (Mayor of Bristol). Marvin shares the story of Bristol, and considers themes like the challenge of building a compassionate city, the relationship between churches and local authorities, and how the church can make a positive difference in a city.
This is part of a longer conversation, and you can also watch the full 25-minute interview here, where Marvin spoke about themes such as housing, handling conflict, and racial justice.
3 – What could be: The story from Stoke-on-Trent
In this talk, Lloyd Cooke, CEO of Saltbox, tells the story of how churches in Stoke-on-Trent have collaborated to pray for and serve their city.
To find out more, visit:
4 – What could be: Churches working for the common good
In this talk, Dr Russell Rook, OBE, founder of the Good Faith Partnership, casts a vision for how churches can work together for the common good.
You can find out more about Russell and his work at:
We also recommended the following books:
- Christ and the Common Life by Dr Luke Bretherton
- For Good, by Russell Rook, Sam Wells, and David Barclay
And you can read Steve Jones’ review of For Good here.
5 – What could be: Loneliness and the power of friendship
In this session we considered the themes of loneliness and isolation, and the power of friendship.
Joy Johnston (Deputy Direction, Volunteering and Tackling Loneliness) helped us to understand the great needs around loneliness, and what the Government is seeking to do about it. Sheridan Voysey (Author, speaker, broadcaster and creator of the Friendship Lab) spoke to us about the importance of friendship, and how we can help people foster deep and meaningful friendships.
Some of the resources and links mentioned in this session include:
- Extending our reach in tackling loneliness – report from Faith Action
- A Connected Society
- Tackling loneliness hub
- Christians together against loneliness
- Friendship Lab – sign up at Sheridan’s website to keep up to date
6 – What will be: Developing a vision for our sector and our city
In this session we considered what we may be able to do together, as a result of all we had learnt.
We heard from Rachel Smith, Family Pastor at St Aldates Church, who shared about Safe Families. Then we broke into groups to discuss the needs we see in our sectors, and how we could begin to make a difference there.
7 – Closing reflections, worship and prayer
In the final session, we took some time to write down our personal reflections and feedback, and then concluded with worship and prayer.
Jacqui Gitau led us in prayer for our city, and we sang a song of worship called We seek your Kingdom. This song was written by Noel Robinson, Andy Flannagan, and Graham Hunter, in partnership with Thy Kingdom Come and the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity. You can find out more about the song here.