Looking back over the last 12 years of ministry with RZIM there is so much to give thanks to God for. Apologetics and mission are unwavering passions in my life, but alongside this I have always been involved in local church leadership with my husband Frog.
Before the parish system was fully functioning in the church, many hundreds of years ago, resource centres for spiritual and missionary growth were established in strategic locations. These hubs were diverse, learned, engaged and often connected to important transport routes. In recent years missiologists, recognising the missionary context of Western Europe in particular, have begun discussing whether a return to Minster churches alongside parochial or local forms of church was long overdue.
Frog and I moved to South Bucks over the summer on the very edge of the M25 and M40 with a small team and a big vision to plant this kind of church. As Latimer Minster we are enthusiastically planting a church with missionary and spiritual seriousness reaching out to lost generations all around us. Moving closer to the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) is a great blessing in itself, so that I am not doing the commute from south London. As a result, I will be increasing my time at the OCCA to help develop it further. We are also using the church plant as an ideal training ground for some of the OCCA students, as all our students have placements alongside churches to ensure they develop a practical aspect to their ministry.
In the past…
‘Minsters’ were large churches connected to monasteries. They were the centre of monastic communities and missionary sending bases, and, as such, were at the heart of monastic movements.
‘Monasteries’ were both a community of people (usually monks) living a life focused on discipleship, prayer and mission together in the place where they lived.
We are excited by what God is doing. A prayerful missional community has been established and we are busy reaching out to people who don’t go to church. Frog can be found every Wednesday evening in a local pub talking to seekers and answering their questions about the Christian faith. We have seen many prodigals returning to the faith as well as conversions. We meet on Sunday mornings and some Saturday nights and we have been thrilled to see a people gathering much faster than we anticipated.
Why Latimer Minster? Hugh Latimer was an English Reformer. In his closing moments as a martyr on the streets of Oxford in 1555 he was reported to have uttered this moving phrase to his friend and fellow martyr: “Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” This is the kind of attitude needed for the rising generation if we are to fulfill the purposes of God – a passion for the transformation and the evangelisation of the nation, and a willingness to count the cost if necessary. In naming the Minster after this man we are anchoring our future in the courage of our heritage.