While our doors are wide open on Sundays, for sound practical reasons our main church building is not currently open to the public for much of the week. However, we have a dream to throw open the doors of the church to the seven million tourists, citizens and students of Oxford who each year walk past the front of St Aldates, to invite them in and offer them an opportunity to encounter Jesus – who changed the world, whose influence underpins much of Oxford’s history and culture, and who is changing lives in Oxford today.
People’s encounters with God in Oxford over the centuries have had a major impact across the world, but it now can seem as though this is carefully being airbrushed out of the collective memory - visitors to Oxford today hear a largely secular narrative. We have a dream of restoring the rich history of individuals and communities, the extraordinary encounters with God that are at the very foundation of the city, by bringing these stories back to centre stage, giving visitors a world-class experience that enables them to learn about these historic events, realise that Jesus is still at work in our city today, and encounter Christ for themselves. We’ve undertaken a significant amount of feasibility and design work for a missional concept we are provisionally calling Illuminations – after the motto of the University of Oxford “Dominus illuminatio mea” (the Lord is my light). We’re now developing a more detailed business plan and raising initial funds.
Stephen Harris now serves as volunteer project manager and has explored various options of projection mapping technology and logistics that could enable the Christ in Oxford vision truly to ‘open the doors’ of St Aldates and facilitate encounters with God. We’re grateful for how he prioritises the flourishing and future of the church ministries as a whole, and we continue to pray and discern the best way to bring the vision to life.