In September this year Emmanuel Church will launch its second meeting, this time in central Oxford. From that point Emmanuel will be one church in two locations. After much deliberation we have settled on the titles ‘Central Site’ and ‘East Site’ (for our existing congregation in Cowley).
Why have we taken this step?
A couple of years ago I had the privilege of spending the day with Jon Tyson, the church planting pioneer who is establishing a family of neighbourhood churches across New York city, USA. Many things impacted me that day but one of the clearest was when Jon explained that, after arriving in New York, he soon realised that there is no such thing as New York City! It doesn’t exist as a single entity – the city is simply a cobweb of interconnecting 'villages'. This revelation changed Jon’s church planting strategy and rather than attempting to build a vast single congregation he undertook the far more nuanced work of establishing relevant churches in each of the villages that make up his city.
Now, let’s be clear, Oxford is not New York! But some of the same realities exist. Oxford is most definitely a city of many villages, each with a distinct ‘flavour’. Whether we consider Summertown or Cowley, Headington or Iffley, Jericho or Botley, Barton or Littlemore, each has its own vibe.
If we fast-forward from my day with Jon to the summer of 2016 we find Emmanuel in an unexpected venue move. With little notice we needed to relocate from the pretty central location of Magdalen Bridge to the heart of Cowley. This was initially a surprise to us but we had been helped by a prophetic word that had been given a few months before, preparing us for ‘faith stretches ahead’. So we relocated to Cowley, to a fabulous new venue and all has gone very well there. While there we began to believe God was asking us to establish a new, second site back into the centre of Oxford. This was highlighted again by a number of prophetic words we received as a congregation during this period. So we started praying and planning and the result is that Emmanuel will launch its new Central Site in late September this year!
This move is exciting for everyone at Emmanuel. The East Site, as well as the Central one, will have the joy of thinking about its future too and can accelerate into many projects and initiatives to bring a blessing to its corner of Oxford.
In readiness for this exciting Central Site launch we have a Connect Group for all those who are planning to be a part of this new congregation (so far about 50 people). This group will meet each Sunday afternoon at 3:30 – 5:00 at Turl Street Kitchen. We already have more than a dozen children involved too, so don’t be afraid to bring your kids!
Dave and Jude May will be leading our Central Site and they have planned the following events before the launch in September:
(Photo - Dave & Jude May)