Update from Our Man in Oxford

Dear friends of Holy Trinity Utrecht,

It is an absolute delight to write you at the beginning of a new school year of my adventures here in the land of mountain’s green, pleasant pastures, clouded hills, among dark Satanic Mills and so in England’s green and pleasant land.

APuseyHousefter a long holiday this summer my role is changing quite a bit for the coming year, but still in familiar surroundings. Last year I spent most of my time at Pusey House, helping to organise lectures, hospitality, homeless and community volunteering, running the library and the daily round of four or five Church services.

This year I will still be involved at Pusey House, but mainly to help the two new Chapel Interns there to do the work. Meaning I will be busy during the start of the year and especially once Oxford Term starts again, but less so over the course of the year.

The plan is to be more involved in daily Parish life and ministry. For that I will spend a lot of my time at St Barnabas in Jericho, Oxford. That will mean I will be there most Sundays, daily for the offices, assisting with funerals, weddings and baptisms and with all sorts of jobs that need doing. They also appointed me as their Children and Youth coordinator and thus I’ll be quite involved at St Barnabas School, with the Junior Choir, Youth groups and Sunday Schools. I love doing that as I still miss my time as a teacher back in the Netherlands.

Vicarage (left) and St Thomas’ (right)

I recently moved to live in the old vicarage of St Thomas the Martyr.  That is an ancient church in which Thomas Becket possibly preached himself.  In recent years the congregation has diminished for all sorts of reasons, but now that parish will be joined with St Barnabas and become a chapel-of-ease within the united benefice.  It means the church will be available for all sorts of exiting plans, most of which still need to be started and thought of.

But we recently started a Saturday night Vigil in preparation of the Sunday with a beautiful liturgy which looks promising when it comes to attendance. Also we work in close relationship with the Romanian Orthodox who started using the building for their services, did a lot of work in the Churchyard and meet a lot of people walking through it (as it is a shortcut for many on the way to the railway station). I’ll be sharing the house with three other people and we’re all committed to do missionary work in the place. We’re currently thinking about an Alpha Course, children’s service, messy church, homeless shelter, daily offices, opening the church up for prayer and meditation during the day, providing hospitality for the neighbourhood and so on. Thoughts in all directions as you can tell and way too many to get started on all of them. But if we could get a good start on one or two of them that would be great.

Pusey House Chapel Solemn Eucharist

Meanwhile I’m still in the discernment process for the priesthood as well. For that conversations are still happening regularly, essays need to be written and prayers offered. The next and final steps, D.V., will involve two more conferences with a lot of interviews and meetings. One meeting is in October with the Diocese in Europe and then hopefully before March with the final stage of a BAP – Bishop’s Advisory Panel. We’ll have to see when we get there, but that seems to be the plan for now. Giving time and space to mull things over on all sides and praying for the right outcome and plans.

In the meantime you are not forgotten here in Oxford, but quite present in my prayers and thoughts. I very much enjoyed seeing many of you again over the summer and look forward together with you to the moment when time and space no longer separate us.

With my very best wishes and prayers,

Thomas Fink-Jensen