We had a good turnout for our Living Mission Event at the beginning of September, part of Bishop Steven’s Pilgrimage to Milton Keynes, with attendees from across many churches, partnerships and denominations. We invited those attending to share what matters to them about mission in MK through one of our famous “dotmocracy” exercises applied to the 5 Marks of Mission. We discovered what can be celebrated, what we need to work at, and what we could do as we emerge into this new post-lockdown world. Bishop Steven commented on what he saw and then took mission questions from the floor.

Bishop Steven’s five day Pilgrimage took him across the three deaneries of Buckingham, Newport and Milton Keynes. He covered just under 60 miles with four days of walking and one of cycling along the red routes of Milton Keynes. He visited around 30 churches including All Saints Milton Keynes Village, St Mary’s Bletchley, St Thomas Simpson, Cross & Stable Downs Barn and Whaddon Way Church. There are lots of photos on The Bishop of Oxford’s facebook page.

Bishop Steven writes: “I spent three days of the five focusing on the largest population centre in the diocese – Milton Keynes – and stayed over for two nights to be part of evening meetings as well. I’ve found it hard to get to know MK by driving in and through the city. Walking and cycling was much better. I came away with a renewed sense of the size and complexity of Milton Keynes; the beauty of the woods, waterways and green spaces, and the older villages with their ancient parish churches, which are at the heart of many of the communities.

Parishes in Milton Keynes can be larger than in any other place in the diocese, with 40,000 people and rising. Ministry and church resources are thinly stretched and the population is growing rapidly. It was good to visit the two new church planting hubs in Bletchley and Water Eaton, and a number of other churches planted in recent years as well, to notice areas where it will be important to increase investment in the coming years. There is a deep and moving commitment to ecumenism and it was good to pray and walk with Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed Church and Roman Catholic colleagues.

I listened as I walked. It was good to hear how things have been through the months of lockdown and as congregations regather. There were some difficult things, of course, many of them. But on the whole the wardens, licensed lay ministers and clergy I met were determined, hopeful, looking forward…”

As well as our Living Mission Event, there was also a service at Christ the Cornerstone with the Presidents, and an evening on the climate crisis organised by Citizens: MK (full report here).

Read Bishop Steven’s reflections on his Pilgrimage in full here.

He was also interviewed on BBC Three Counties Radio. The full interview is available to listen to here: