A year in a new-build community - Wantage and Abingdon Methodist Circuit

Just over a year ago, the Wantage and Abingdon Circuit launched
a ‘community chaplaincy’ scheme.

Sarah Ifill and Libby Hawkness-Smith are Community Chaplains
to a new-build area. They support schools, uniformed groups, residents’ associations, shops, construction workers, retirement homes and Special Educational Needs groups and others through an unobtrusive ‘ministry of presence’.

Every day is different. Some can involve leading mindfulness sessions for primary school aged children, making candyfloss for the annual activities week, setting up prayer spaces, appearing
on BBC Oxfordshire or offering additional support in safeguarding

The team are blessed by the number of people who have adopted them as their ‘chaplains’, sharing concerns, faith encounters and life stories. They are widely known across the area, having had over 500 conversations in their first year and many with people at a crisis moment in their lives. Every day is special.

Libby and Sarah are constantly amazed at how God takes their simple offerings of being present with open hands and an open heart and turns them into life-changing moments, significant encounters and moments of deep connection with people from all walks of life across the area. It is a humbling experience.

Sarah said: “In some ways, it's such a simple ministry. We drive into an area in our 'mobile chaplaincy' (a campervan called Hope), walk around, let the hellos and smiles develop into conversations, and pray for all the people. It's so effective.”



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