August always feels like a quiet month in the life of the church with many people away. September is likely to be very different…

There are two big issues for us as a church in the month of September.

The first is that we will be moving out of our current premises in order for significant building work to start. We will be meeting in St.Edward’s School on Sunday mornings and Summertown Hall on Sunday evenings from 23rd September. We are very thankful for the provision of these temporary venues. More details will appear on the website in due course. Obviously there is a lot of work to be done in preparation for this and doubtless there may be one or two practical challenges in the first weeks of meeting elsewhere when we will need to be patient with each other! But these are exciting times for us as a church- and we are so thankful for the Lord’s provision to enable us to make our buildings a better resource to reach out with the Gospel.

The second big concern is the subject of church planting. As elders we pondered delaying consideration of planting until after the building work was completed. However, we were aware that the temptation for us would be to get the building work done and then want to settle down. We don’t want to be comfortable but rather passionate about spreading the Gospel. After all the most important building work is that of growing the Kingdom through people coming to know Christ. So in September we are going to continue to think and pray about the subject of planting. To that end we have invited three preachers from outside the church who have experience of planting to speak in the first few weeks of the month and our homegroups will also be praying about and discussing the subject.

September is also a time when we have the joy of welcoming newcomers to Oxford. It may be that you are about to arrive in Oxford and are reading this on the church website. Please do come and join us. As I say, church life may feel a little bit bumpy at this time but we hope that you will be joining a church family that is seeking to grow in dependence on God.

I will list the key dates below but one last remark to those who may feel daunted by all that is going on. I have always been struck by the words of Nehemiah to the people of God as they carried out major work: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” My prayer in the midst of all that is ahead is that we would not be marked by stress and anxiety but we would be empowered and strengthened by a joy in our relationship with the Lord who is so good to us. Perhaps you might pray the same for yourself and the rest of the church family?

Sunday 2nd September

10.30am  David Earl will be preaching. David is the pastor of Marston Neighbourhood Church, which was planted from us nine years ago.

6.30pm  Steve Palmer will be starting us off on a short series from the book of Ezra. Our church vision statement for the year (“Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit”) comes in the context of the re-building of the temple. The book of Ezra will tell us the story of that great work.

I will be away speaking at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bangor, Northern Ireland which is the home church of Norman and Ruth Geary.

Wednesday 5th September

Church Prayer Meeting at 7.30pm

Saturday 8th September

Waterways BBQ from 12.00-3.00. Everybody from the church is welcome.

Sunday 9th September

10.30am As part of this service we are due be commissioning Iain Gray as he starts as an elder of the church. I will also be commencing our autumn series working through Romans 5-8. These are fantastic chapters for showing us the shape of the Christian life- enjoying peace with God, union with the Lord Jesus, the work of the Spirit as we seek to live new lives and the confidence of God’s love in the midst of suffering. I am hoping it will be an encouragement to all of us and useful for those who aren’t Christians who might be curious to know what a Christian really is.

6.30pm Dan Steel from Magdalen Road will be continuing our series on Ezra. Dan has previously been involved in church planting in Birmingham and there should be an opportunity to ask questions on this subject after the service.

Wednesday 12th/Thursday 13th September

Homegroups resume after their August break. We have two studies planned on the subject of church planting- for September and (depending on the group) early October.

Saturday 15th September

Morning of Prayer in the church building.

Sunday 16th September

10.30am Praise God that our last Sunday morning service in our old buildings will be a baptism service. Please let me know if you would be interested in being baptised on that occasion.

6.30pm We are looking forward to having Alan Dodd from Lakseide Community Church in the West Midlands to be with us to talk about church planting. Alan has been involved in supporting John and Lois’ translation work over the years.

Wednesday 19th September

Church Members’ Meeting- an opportunity for us to discuss and pray about all that is ahead. If you would like to become a church member on that occasion please have a word with me.

Sunday 23rd September

am (precise time to be confirmed)- Our first Sunday morning in St.Edward’s when I will be preaching.

6.30pm Meeting at Summertown Hall. Mark Widgery will be continuing to take us through Ezra.

Wednesday 26th/Thursday 27th September

Homegroup meetings

Sunday 30th September

am: Harvest Service for All Ages. It will be slightly different this year in that we won’t be able to put together a harvest display. However, we will still remember God’s goodness together and there will be a message for all ages that will seek to proclaim the Gospel to Christians and non-Christians.

6.30pm We will be meeting at Summertown Hall when I will be completing our series in Ezra.

Looking further ahead we have an exciting series on Sunday evenings in October when we will be looking at God’s plan for the world from Genesis and beyond thinking about our Creator, His plan for creation, what it means to be human, work and rest (with the recently married Mr.Bilton returning) and marriage. I am hoping this will be of interest to Christians and those still looking into the Christian faith.

One thing to note is that there won’t be a communion service on a Sunday morning in September. The only Sunday that was free was 23rd and we felt that trying to arrange a communion service on our first Sunday at St.Edwards’ might be stretching things too far! I hope you understand the reasons for this. We will be meeting around the Lord’s Table this coming Sunday evening.

There may be one or two things to add in order to aid the emptying of the building and one or two things above may change. Obviously there are more details to be announced. Please pray that the Lord’s joy would give us strength in all that is ahead.