West Region Update
Blending North & West
Our journey started with the flowing together of two streams. Early in the development of a regional vision the churches in Witney, Carterton, Cote and The Wychwoods had formed the original West Region, meanwhile Chipping Norton and the church plant in Moreton-in-Marsh were operating as part of a northern grouping with Bicester and Banbury. Building an enlarged West Region to include those of us from the north west gave us an enlarged team, adding strength to all.
A New Mandate for a New Team
The OCC celebration in November 2011 was clearly an important time for us as we faced a significant readjustment. Firstly, there was a clear sense of receiving a God given mandate for leading together under Gary & Jackie Pizzey’s excellent leadership, but we were also faced with learning to lead without the much loved Graham Sparrowhawk who had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly just days beforehand. Around this time we gave ourselves to trying to define our task, asking what was the purpose in our working together; what did it mean to be stronger together and what should our priorities be? We developed the following mission statement to clarify our collective purpose: “Transforming our communities together, by training leaders, releasing resources & planting churches” Since then, we have been giving ourselves to that task and started to see the impact of working on these areas across our churches. At times we have been placing a particular focus on developing specific gifting in areas such as worship, evangelism and the prophetic and also looking to provide equipping and support for emerging leaders across the region. In seeking to release resources, this has been as much about being able to get the right people in the right places, particularly looking to see greater release for key leaders. Last September saw changes for Paul Meathrel who started working for the church in Chipping Norton for three days a week, and Dan Campsall starting to give a day a week to the region as well. The releasing of resources has also been seen in our finances as our most recent regional celebration offering generated substantial sums to support a building project in Nowy Sacz, South Poland whilst also giving us the ability to invite external ministries that can support us as we develop. Now, as we look to the future there are a number of prophetic words that we are building off.
Moving Chess Pieces
At our regional celebration in September we received a word about God wanting to start moving chess pieces again, that he was looking for a new level of mobility among us. As we prayed into this word little did we know quite what the significance would be for our region and our churches. Within weeks God was highlighting some very clear strategic moves that would bring about some quite dramatic changes. Through God’s leading, and with input from Steve Thomas, Dan & Kerstin Campsall have now moved to take up the leadership in Witney working alongside Gary & Jackie Pizzey, Jason & Jen Huffadine and the rest of the eldership team. At the same time Dan & Kerst have also taken on the leadership of the region, a process that was concluded when they were prayed in at the regional celebration in January; just four months after receiving the word about Chess Pieces! Other pieces are moving too. John & Jen Gridley have recently moved from Moreton-in-Marsh to work with the church in Carterton, meanwhile other key leaders are looking at potential moves in the coming months. Opening Up the WellsAt our May celebration we enjoyed a great time with excellent input from Jacek Orlowski who is developing a regional team in a large area of south Poland. Our excitement in working with ‘Jack’ and his team is the sense in which we can learn from one another and, across national boundaries and cultural divides, support one another in the development of our respective regional visions. Also at that celebration, we received a prophetic word out of Genesis 26 about God wanting to unstop the wells that have been filled in (just as Isaac dug out Abraham’s wells). This immediately resonated as the same word had been given just ten days previously in a training event for our worship leaders. These are days in which God is speaking about the recovery of some things that have been lost, of digging to find new refreshment, of recovering something that we have lost in the whole dynamic of life in the spirit.
A New Measure
The other prophetic sound is one that is being heard more widely within our family of churches. These are days in which God is giving us a new measure of faith. It’s time to put away our domestic tape measures that are great for putting up curtains and shelves, it’s time to take the new measuring rod that God is giving us (see the rod of 6 royal cubits in Ezekiel 40). This new measure speaks of royal authority, this new measure is about quantifying new territory, its about a vision for something which is bigger and further than we have yet to comprehend. What does this mean for the Western Region, what is the territory that God wants us to measure out, what does it mean for us to Go Beyond? These are questions that we are wrestling with now, but we sense that it has to do, not only with infilling the region, but also spilling over our borders. There are still some substantial communities within West Oxfordshire that could be more effectively reached by establishing a presence there through church planting, but beyond our borders there are some major population centres that we need to pray over. Take somewhere like Cheltenham, with its population of 115,000, or Stratford-Upon-Avon which attracts a global audience - are these the places that God is calling us to look to, are they our ‘Going Beyond’?