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St Michael’s is an Anglican church, which uses modern catholic worship to welcome all to the Lord’s table. We are a smallish congregation, friendly to all comers, whether aged 9 months or 90 years, and whether ‘old hands’ at worship or new to faith and its celebrations. The building, at the junction of Jack Straw’s Lane and the Marston Road, was 50 years old in 2005: we celebrated our Jubilee in style in September. But those who worship in it come from far and wide: all corners of the globe, all ages, all spiritualities, find a home here. Currently there are about 90 people who come to St Michael’s from time to time. Probably about 50 turn up most Sundays, about half of whom are under 20.
The main service on Sundays is at 10.00 a.m., a Eucharist or breaking of bread. There are different activities for those aged 0-6, 6-9 and 9+ during parts of the service, but all come together to receive the consecrated bread and wine, or a piece of specially baked, blessed bread, during the ‘communion’. We sing songs from around the world as well as traditional hymns. We use a variety of service forms, and sometimes we have talks or spaces for thinking, praying or sharing where different people can contribute. Lots of people, young and older, take active parts in creating our worship: they carry candles, read from the Bible, lead our prayers, preach, play musical instruments, sing, or manage the sound system. We always have tea and coffee after the service, and sometimes there are freshly baked cakes too! Sometimes we have lunch together on a Sunday; sometimes we go to shows or films together; sometimes we play other churches at football after church – but none of these is compulsory! In the summer we often go on day-trips, long rambles, picnics or barbecues.
Our Vicar, the Rev’d Elaine Bardwell, lives nearby and is always very pleased to meet anyone who would like to talk things over with her. Two other priests also work in the church, and two more church members who have secular jobs preach regularly. Every day from Monday to Friday morning and evening prayers are said in the church by a few people who come together for about 30 minutes. On Wednesday morning there is also a Eucharist at 11.00 a.m. Everyone is most welcome to join in any of these services: if you aren’t familiar with the format don’t worry – someone will show you. All the books and words you need are provided. If there is anything you would like people to pray about, you can write it on a card (sealed or open) and hang it on the ‘prayer tree’ next to the Lady Chapel altar. We often have meetings with each other during the week: fellowship groups, discussion groups, Bible studies, inquiries into faith fundamentals, or classes for those wanting to be baptised or confirmed. Just ask Elaine.
We have a lot of people who come and go at St Michael’s, some of whom only stay for a short time because of their work or studies. We also have quite a few families with very young children, who seem to love coming on Sundays and having a good time together. Whatever your custom, whether you know a lot or very little about Christian ways, however brief your stay in Oxford or Marston, we would really like to make you welcome!