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Issue 2 number 5 March 2016

Timelessness and Present Day Relevance The Revd Simon Steer

A The Editors

Andrew Colborne Alexandra Green Louise Heffernan Sheila Hills

Silvia Joinson David Pope

Carol Worthington

Copy for next issue to Parish Office or via email by 5th of

preceding month E-mail:


Parish Office:

St Helen’s Court, Ab- ingdon.

OX14 5BS Tel: 01235 520144

The Window is available to download from the

Churches’ websites on the back page

s Chaplain of Abingdon School, I have the privilege of being part of a rich Christian tradition that traces its roots to our town’s medieval Benedictine Abbey. The earliest references to the school come in a legal document of 1100, and from the will of the

Abbot of Abingdon, John de Blosneville, who in 1256 left money for the support of thirteen poor scholars. It is thought that at this time classes were held in St Nicolas’ Church but by 1375 a legal document locates the School in two adjacent premises in Stert Street.

Each year, at the end of the Lent term, the school holds a Commemoration of Benefactors and Passiontide service at St Helen’s Church. It is an opportunity to give thanks to God for those men and women who have, over the centuries, made significant contributions to the life and development of the School. One of those we commemorate in March is John Roysse who re-endowed the School in 1563. It is from this event that the number 63 gained signifi- cance in the life of the school. In 1563, John Roysse was 63 years old, and his benefactions included funding for 63 free scholars in a schoolroom that was 63 feet long. The number 63 remains important to the school today: it is the last two digits of the main school telephone number, and the school bell is rung 63 times to mark significant occasions. At the Benefac- tors’ service, the two Heads of School will place a wreath on the tomb of John Roysse inside St Helen’s church.

An appreciation of the importance of the Christian faith in many of our schools and commu- nities is enormously beneficial in providing a sense of rootedness, heritage and connected- ness. But it is not enough. We need to communicate and embody the vital relevance of faith to the issues and challenges of our time. This is particularly true among young people, many of whom tend to think that Christianity is yesterday’s news. That is why Abingdon School puts on a week of activities every March, called Lenten Life, enabling boys and staff to ex- plore the contemporary significance of Christian faith and commitment. Through debates, discussions, lunch time presentations and a ‘Grill a Christian’ event (!), boys will be encour- aged to think carefully about the claims of the gospel.

One of the highlights this year is a lecture on the relationship between science and Christian- ity by Ard Louis, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Oxford University. Professor Louis will explore the extraordinary possibility that there is a connection between the Easter story that we will soon celebrate and cutting edge scientific research. Perhaps the crucified Christ has become the cosmic Christ. My hope is that the boys at Abingdon will find something in these events that is intellectually stimulating and spiritually satisfying. May the ancient story of a sacrificial Saviour and a risen Lord have, for all of us, the compelling freshness of breaking news.

The Revd Simon Steer is Chaplain of Abingdon School

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