On Thursday 12 May, Bishop Steven spent the afternoon with clergy in the Abingdon Deanery, visited two local youth work charities, and joined lay leaders for an evening of conversation.
Beginning with a Eucharist for clergy at St James the Great in Radley, led by the Revd Rob Glenny, Bishop Steven shared his appreciation and respect for clergy and their efforts over the past two years. Speaking on the story of Elijah, Bishop Steven encouraged clergy to be conscious of the need to give time and space for recovery and of God’s “graceful affirmation that we have done the very best we can with the circumstances we have been given.”
During a lunch with the deanery clergy, Bishop Steven and the Bishop of Dorchester heard from clergy sharing their honest experiences and the highs and lows of ministry during the pandemic. There were positive stories of growing children’s ministry, numbers in church being back to where they were before the pandemic, building new relationships with people in their communities, and the flexibility of digital technology enabling clergy to reach people who wouldn’t usually engage with church.
“All manner of relationships in the community have developed and blossomed.”
Supporting young people
The second part of the afternoon saw Bishop Steven in the centre of Abingdon, hearing from staff and young people at the Abingdon Bridge Project and the DAMASCUS Youth Project– two organisations working alongside one another to support the young people in the town and the surrounding villages.
Bishop Steven heard firsthand from a local teenager who has been through a counselling and education support programme with the Abingdon Bridge Project on the transformation it has made to her mental health and outlook on life. Staff shared how cuts in national funding for youth services over the past ten years have impacted young people in the area and they have seen a rise in the number of young people in need of support.
DAMASCUS has been working in Abingdon and the surrounding villages for more than 20 years building relationships with young people and their families. Through grassroots street work they help enable young people to positively contribute to their local area and bring together the younger and older generations to create a sense of belonging and purpose.
An evening with Bishop Steven
Bishop Steven's next visit sees him travelling to Chipping Norton and Woodstock Deaneries on Thursday 19 May. See more of the deanery visits so far and save the date for your deanery.