On Pentecost Sunday – 12 June – the Church on Oakwood, celebrated 25 years of ministry on Oakwood estate in Derby – one of Europe’s largest private housing developments.
The morning congregation comprises worshippers from three denominations – United Reformed, Methodist, and Anglican – and in the evening a Roman Catholic service is held in the building.
In spring 1986 a few local Christians met in the home of a deaconsess who made it available for prayer; and the first official service was held at Pentecost in June that year. About 60 people from all denominations attended, including Steve Judd, who still worships at the church, who recalled: "People were on the window sills, in the kitchen, in the hall and up the stairs. The band stood half inside and half on the patio."
In October 1992 building work started, being completed the following spring, with the first service held at Easter 1993. It was named The Church on Oakwood – as it was, and remains, the only church in Oakwood, catering for all denominations.
Mrs Hazel Ellison, chair of the church's 25th anniversary committee, said: "We consider Pentecost our birthday – our first church meeting took place on Pentecost in the deaconess's house and our church building was also dedicated on Pentecost Sunday."
Over the years, the church has seen many people come and go, but Mrs Ellison said numbers had gradually risen, bucking the national trend.
She said: "It's hard to say why that is. We're a modern church that encompasses different denominations, so there are aspects of all Christian traditions. It works. While there may be some differences between those traditions, everyone's attitude is we all worship the same God. We have various services to cater for everyone, but also get together as one church community."
During the four weeks leading up to and including Pentecost Sunday there were special services with guest preachers from the Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Reformed traditions. On Sunday 5 June, the Revd Graham Maskery (pictured), currently URC minister at St Columba’s with New Lendal, in York, was the guest preacher. Graham, a former ecumenical officer for East Midlands Synod, played a leading role in the early life of the church on Oakwood. His passionate sermon included a call for all present to recognise our calling as “the priesthood of all believers” and to “stop maintaining what we've got and get on with the mission of the church” – to be the heart of Christ at the heart of Oakwood and to tell people of God's love for them.
The anniversary weekend was marked by an afternoon of fun and games at Oakwood Park on Saturday, and a special lunch, after the Sunday morning service.
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