Bishop Steven visits the Newbury Deanery, meeting with clergy and laity and having a ride on a mini electric train.
Starting with a Eucharist service at St Mary's Church, Shaw cum Donnington, Bishop Steven preached on the first verse of the bible and the need to take time to recalibrate at this stage of the pandemic.
"Our default in the life of the church - in a beautiful way - is what did we do last year? Every so often, we experience a step in ministry that causes disruption to that pattern."
In attendance were clergy from across the deanery, many of whom related to the brooding metaphor used in Genesis, comparing waiting for an egg to hatch to their own anxiety and eagerness for what the future holds.
On a poignant day - marking two years since the first UK lockdown and a day of concern for many awaiting the Chancellor of the Exchequer's spring statement - the Bishop chatted with clergy in a time of open and honest conversation. Many described seeing an increased hunger for parent and toddler groups in their communities, with new parents having missed out on the usual avenues of support during the pandemic. One member of clergy commended curates for their fresh eyes over the past year, noting their ability to spot the new opportunities afforded by the pandemic.
After lunch, Bishop Steven travelled to Beedon Church of England Primary School, where he led an assembly and joined the children in worship, singing One More Step Along the World I Go. Drawing on the Come and See resources for families, Bishop Steven shared with pupils his love of bread-making and explained the importance of our daily bread in Christian life.
Making the most of the sunshine, Bishop Steven visited St Mary's Church in Greenham, home to the St Mary's Railway Club and a mini circular railway. With both a steam-powered and an electric train, the railway sits at the heart of the churchyard, surrounded by newly planted trees and backing onto Audrey's Meadow. The church also hopes to create a peace garden in the area.
A huge hit on family fun days, the railway club offers free short rides for children and are looking forward to the festivities of the upcoming jubilee weekend. The Bishop was joined by students from Mary Hare, a primary school for deaf children in years 1-6. Donning a train driver's cap and holding a green flag, Bishop Steven waved the children off as they had their turn on the trains.
After dinner with local lay leaders, St George's Church hosted an evening with the Bishop - an open time of questions from laity and a chance to hear from Bishop Steven directly.
Bishop Steven's deanery visits continue this week with trips to Witney and Wallingford. These visits form part of a year which is a chance "to listen and to encourage the Church to be the best we can be in this time, for the sake of God’s world".