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Ideas to Inspire

The book club Another lively group is the book club, run by a keen reader, Rose Williams. She wanted a friendly environment in which a group of book-lovers could meet to discuss Christian literature. One of the group regulars, Hilary Derbyshire, says, “We meet about once a

month and have tackled some fascinating subjects. We have about eight or nine members, but we are typically around six at any one meeting and different members will nominate a book to read and lead the discussions. “Some books are specifically faith-related, but others simply have a strong

moral or ethical theme to them. I think we have the best discussions when opinions about the book are divided. “My favourites so far have been How to be a bad Christian ... and a better human

being, by Dave Tomlinson, which was both a humorous and profound insight into the way institutional religion can sometimes get in the way of God; and Susan Hill’s The Betrayal of Trust, which inspired a thought-provoking discussion on assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

Other groups Among the other Life Groups are: + The ‘Pints of View’ group, which meets monthly for a pub lunch, a chat and a discussion topic. There’s also a pub evening group that meets weekly for social time. It’s very relaxed and informal, and people drop in and out at their convenience. + The contemplation and meditation group has evening meetings to meditate quietly on the Lord’s prayer and provides the opportunity for contemplative prayer among its members. + The choir offers a supportive and friendly singing environment for any enthusiastic and tuneful singers. It leads the worship at the 9.30am Sunday service and monthly Evensong, and is also available for weddings, funerals and civic services when required. + The dog walking group offers daily support for members to discuss their lives and their faith in the fresh air, and to get fit in the process. This group meets daily on weekdays and dog ownership is not a prerequisite!

The steam railway group There are a number of people within the church who can’t resist the lure of steam, so they formed their own group. Peter Cline, one of the members, says, “You could say we’ve never grown up, but it keeps us out of mischief!

“By visiting local heritage railways and other

venues with a steam theme, we’ve built up a strong group of friends who look out for each other and really enjoy a day out, sharing a common interest. “In our first year we visited eight steam

venues, including the Severn Valley Railway, the Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway, Didcot Railway Centre and, more locally, the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, and the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway. “We also visited a Steam Fair at Fawley,

went to Pendon Museum, and had a day out at a steam-driven brewery at Hook Norton, which still relies on traditional methods and materials to produce their various beers. This visit started off with a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, then concluded with samples of their brews! It rounded the year off nicely!”

The future

This is only the beginning of the Life Groups story. Many of the groups are eager to welcome new people, and new groups are starting. Some groups are considering how they could organically divide and continue to grow, gathering new people to enjoy life together.

“We are always listening out for other ideas that could help to bring this special fellowship to the lives of more people,” says Louise Fell, who oversees the whole project. “A few mums are now looking at a family group, which they hope will bring fathers closer to the church. People can join a Life Group at any time or suggest and/or coordinate a new group, using their own gifts and abilities to help others enjoy life together.”

+ Susie Kearley is a freelance writer

( For more details about St Mary’s visit or call 01844 273300

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