No Beauty We Could Desire: Thoughts on Beauty and Faith

A Request for Some Help Finding a Church

I’m hoping my network here can help me with the problem of where I should go to church for the next several months while I’m on sabbatical in Oxford. I don’t want to be an ecclesiastical tourist. I’d like to be a regular attender somewhere. But I’m not seeing a church that would really welcome me.

On the one hand, I’m a conservative, orthodox theologian in the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition, affiliated with the evangelical wing of American Presbyterianism rather than the mainline.  That set of commitments leads me to one group of churches.  On the other hand, I am a professor of theology and an ordained pastor – while also being female.  That reality leads me to a different group of churches.

There are churches here that profess orthodox theology. There are churches here that affirm women in ministry. But I’m not seeing any place obvious that does both. I hope that just means that my perusal of church websites is not revealing the whole ecclesiastical picture.  But conversation with folks who have been here longer has not yet been encouraging.

When I was a young pastor fresh out of seminary, I spent a lot of time in communities that didn’t accept women in ministry. I was willing to be an ambassador, swallowing insulting behavior and absorbing a lot of criticism. But at this point in my life I’ve been an ordained pastor for 25 years. I’ve been a doctor of the church for more than 15. It just feels surreal to be part of a community that denies those facts.

On the other hand, I really hate hearing unorthodox preaching from the pulpit. I spend my whole life defending orthodoxy, and I expect to be supported in that work when I go to church.  I suppose God could be calling me to evangelize the open theists….

In the States I can find plenty of congregations where my theological commitments and my ordination are both acknowledged, but I haven’t discovered such a church here. So does anyone know a good church in Oxford?