A Day of Celebration – 20 years together and still going strong!

On 14th January, St Mary’s Anglican church and Oakley Methodist church joined together to celebrate 20 years of our “Local Ecumenical Partnership”, known as Churches Together in Oakley. We had a celebratory service at St Mary’s in the morning followed by a joint meal at the Methodist church, attended by 80 people. 

Archdeacon Paul and past priests, along with the present incumbents, the Rev. Gill Baalham of the Methodist church and the Rev Di Harpham of St Mary’s joined us for the celebrations, and Di and Gill led the service at St Mary’s, Di stepping in to give the address at short notice when Karen advised us that she would unfortunately be unable to attend. It is that spirit of co-operation that has been the hallmark of the partnership since the start.

It was indeed a sadness that the two driving forces behind the partnership, the reverends Pat Quint and Karen Murphy were unable to attend. The two of them had started the idea in 1997 and by the end of that year, we had agreed on a format for the ‘covenant’ between the churches, and completed the formalities that continue to hold us together now and into the future. Together Pat and Karen were a force to be reckoned with! Everyone in the village at the time will recall them being labelled “Little and Large”.

Our thanks go to all those down the years who have helped the partnership to prosper. We have regular joint services and village services throughout the year, a monthly newsletter and many other social gatherings, including our monthly Amigo meetings where we get up to a variety of things from pub skittles, to carol singing and guided London walks. Many villagers will also have taken part in the all age Christingle service, the Christmas Tree Lighting and carols in the pub.

Other joint enterprises that have resulted from our desire to ‘do things together’ include our weekly “Messy Church” for carers, toddlers and preschoolers – the initiative of Rev Martin and Rachel Hartley 10 years ago - and our monthly “Messy Church For All” which is for parents, children, grandparents – in fact, anyone and everyone. These sessions of craft, stories and singing are the essence of our partnership, and, together with all our regular joint gatherings,  are a great legacy of the vision of Pat and Karen 20 years ago and the work of so many since.

On this day of celebration in January we gave thanks for the past 20 years and very much look forward to serving the people of Oakley in the future.

Jan and Graham Follett

Pp the LEP Committee – Churches Together in Oakley