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Gazette >

Ecumenical welcoming

FORTY-FIVE people were welcomed into church membership at the ecumenical church on Fairford Leys, Aylesbury, in Oxford diocese. Twenty-two of them were jointly confirmed by the Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, and the Revd Anne Brown, the Methodist Chair of the London North West District. (Three of the candidates were baptised first.) The other 23 were welcomed into membership with the "right hand of fellowship" in the tradition of the United Reformed Church.

"It was an impressive act of commitment, and a very joyful occasion," the Bishop told me.

Fairford Leys was built as an urban village. The ecumenical congregation grew up meeting in a farmhouse until the new church was built in the town square in 2003 with the "three denominational midwives" — Anglican, Methodist, and URC. It "follows the pattern from Milton Keynes", says the Bishop.

The current minister is a Methodist, the Revd Fred Ireland, who is also chaplain at the Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution. Mr Ireland said he was "thrilled" to see 45 people expressing a desire to belong at this new church. Though the eucharistic services are mostly in the Methodist tradition, an Anglican chaplain also helps out, and "Fairford Leys demonstrates what can be achieved when we work together."

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