Sowing with tears and reaping with joy

THE THRESHOLD PROJECT – IT’S REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN!! I am delighted to be able to report that St Michael & All Angels has been granted a faculty authorising the development of the Threshold Project, the west extension extension traditionally known as a narthex. We are planning to get the builders on site, possibly by mid-June. So, what is a narthex and why is it so important?

 “The narthex is a place of welcome—a threshold space between the congregation’s space and the outside environment. In the early days of the Church, it was a ‘waiting area’ for catechumens and penitents. Today it serves as gathering space as well as the entrance and exit to the building. The gathering space helps believers to make the transition from everyday life to the celebration of the liturgy, and after the liturgy, it helps them return to daily life to live out the mystery that has been celebrated.” (From the Catholic Bishops publication, Built of Living Stones)

We plan not only to build a space for gathering but also a space for to facilitate church growth and enable greater community involvement. This includes a commercial kitchen, an office, toilets as well as the meeting area. Here is a reminder of our key objectives in envisioning the Threshold Project and what it will mean for the wider parish of St Michael & All Angels:

  • A place of welcome – Opening up the church throughout the week and inviting the local community to enter and engage. The Threshold will become a ‘hub,’ an active centre of church life and prayer outside of normal ‘worship’ times.
  • A place of community – New facilities will encourage different user groups to enjoy the church space. A meeting area, a kitchen, an office and much-needed toilets will make St Michael’s become more hospitable for the entire local community.
  • A place of wellbeing – Creating a therapeutic environment. The Threshold will be offered to local care and health organisations for meetings, talks and consultations. The church environment lends itself to the pursuit of quietness and reflection.
  • A place of creativity – Providing a creative space where talent and beauty flourishes. The Threshold will enhance St Michael’s growing reputation as a venue for music and the arts.


This purchase of the house is also moving forward quickly. The PCC has had an offer accepted and we will now seek a building survey and conveyancing. This is a house that the church can be very proud to use for the mission of God’s Church. By buying this property the church is saying that it is investing in the Cutteslowe community, that it is an intrinsic part of the parish.

We are therefore on plan – all of which have been costed and scrutinised. I hope that you can see God moving in these developments and how we are being formed and shaped into a community which is more Christ-like. Please continue to pray that all this work may be dedicated to God. This verse fromPsalm 126 has accompanied me through these years of setbacks and challenges: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”

          Let’s harvest the fruits together!

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.