I’m meeting with a group this afternoon, a regular meeting, looking at the provision of youth work in this area. Despite the prosperity of this part of the world, the provision of activities, events and venues for young people is quite depleted. So, the local police, youth club leaders, council officials and the parish church meet to discuss a plan to engage with young people in this  part of north Oxford.

On Sunday, I am also meeting with someone who is about to start youth work training. I hope, in the near future, to be able to offer a paid post for a youth worker to join St Michael’s. This is not the final solution, in fact it is only the beginning! I am having conversations about the way in which we might offer more direction and leadership for young families who are looking to grow in faith. Another possibility is the recruitment of a children and family worker, one who would drill down into the local community and make effective connections between the church and the world around it.

This is all happening at the time when the Bishop of Oxford is creating various conversations during the season of Lent with people who have a desire to journey deeper with a wider family of faith. Bishop Steven is attempting to highlight the ancient Christian model of learning and discipleship, defining catechism for a new generation:

“We will rescue and populate with meaning the word catechesis: the ancient and contemporary Christian discipline of the formation of disciples – creating an echo of the living Word of God and the image of Christ in the life of every believer.”

The Good Shepherd knows the sheep, and the sheep know the Good Shepherd.

Bishop Steven is keen to emphasise that catechism contains the root word ‘echo.’ The point here is that in order for the Christian life to be authentically expressed, and for society to be transformed, we cannot allow the divine spark to be diminished or the rumour of God to be muted. We, therefore, have a responsibility to form others in discipleship, to model Christian living. At St Michael’s, our experience of Godly Play has enabled many children to see their relationship with God in a non-abstract way, freed from logic and dogma. Godly Play, with the parable of the Good Shepherd at its heart, is just one way in which we are applying catechetical teaching.

Bishop Steven’s emerging vision for the Diocese of Oxford is for the Church to become more Christ-like, capturing the essence of Jesus’ call to his disciples to become “contemplative, compassionate and courageous.”

As with most activities in church and community that work and stick, this process of catechetical formation is not an individual quest for self-improvement. It requires a corporate sense of sharing and learning. We need our voices to echo with Christ-like sounds. ‘Deep calls to deep’ reflects the psalmist. So, let us call out – please pray for the future catechetical work of St Michael & All Angel’s in this parish of Summertown.

Sunday services: 8am Holy Eucharist; 10am Parish Eucharist (with children’s church); 6.30pm Contemplative Prayer.

No matter where you are on the journey of faith, you are always welcome at St Michael & All Angels! Click here for news and the Sunday readings sheet.

Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.