Out of a Village...

“Kidlington Covenant Community” – it sounds a slightly archaic name, now that it hasn’t been used for so many years! Yet it was a name that reflected the heart’s desire of the small group of people who formed around Geoff and Mary Norridge after the painful demise of the Georgian House Fellowship in 1980.

Meetings were held in homes for some months as relationships were built and re-built. A strong and closeknit community was forged – totally committed to one another and ready to do the craziest things for the Lord. Against all the odds, the little fellowship flourished, and nobody who was present at Benmead Road School on the evening of Wednesday 11 Feburary 1981 could ever forget the stunning prophetic words that came from Barney Coombs, Bryn Franklin and others, as Geoff and Mary were prayed in as leaders:

Barney: “This is my Bethlehem; this is a place of birth; this is a place where a child will be born.”

Bryn: “For out of a village I will bring forth a city. I will bring forth a city out of a village. Isn’t that amazing? It is within your grasp to go to the city that lies ahead of you... there will come a day when you will go to the city gates.”

It seemed impossible to imagine that within five years the word would have come to pass and out of the fellowship meeting in Kidlington (along with others from Cote and Witney) would come forth The Oxford Community Church.

Yet it was not a settled time, or even one of steady growth. On the contrary, we seemed to be a pilgrim people, moving from one meeting place to another. From a school hall to a cold and dirty sports pavilion, to the splendours of the newly-built Exeter Hall, to the smaller but even newer Forrester’s Hall above Tesco. The whole of the summer of 1981, we were without a “home” at all, and met each week on the local playing fields, moving from one to another so that all of Kidlington was covered. That was the year that John and Brenda Turner, Pat Barbour and Sally Holmes decided to move up from Basingstoke to join us!

Numbers fluctuated as various young people moved away to college, whilst Oxford students began to find us. Those were the days of 20-mile trips around Oxford by car or minibus, collecting and depositing from as far afield as Cowley, Marston and Wheatley. Sunday afternoons with students on their hands and knees on living room floors, playing with children. Days when commitment meant that
the desire for fellowship was worth the sacrifice of long journeys and late nights. They were days that nurtured people like Fiona Gyde, Clive Morris, Adrienne Blakey, Clive and Sally Harding, and many others.

Even as a small fellowship, there was big vision. The 1983 “Kingdom of God” seminars, blessed by the presence of such men as Arthur Wallis and David Pawson, were captured on video by Clive Harding with the help of street lights imported for the occasion by Kieran Murphy!

Not everything was rosy. Several people found the walk too hard and fell away; despite every conceivable type of outreach activity, there was very little new birth and Kidlington seemed largely untouched. Even a visit by the group “Heartbeat”, who filled the Exeter Hall to overflowing with teenagers, failed to produce lasting fruit.

But the Lord was, and still is, sovereign. The witness continues in Kidlington, and the Kingdom of God moves forward in the village, just as it does in the city which lies so close to it.

Barrie and Mary Wood, one-time KCC members, have also lead the Bicester Community Church, and are now planting a church in Banbury.