This coming Sunday, we will be joined by Rich and Anna Ellwood. Having grown up in Oxfordshire, Rich and his Belgian wife, Anna, have spent 13 years leading a church in Brussels. They have now relocated with their family to the UK. Rich works for Christians Against Poverty, and as of September 2023, now leads Salt & Light Advance.
Advance is the wider family of churches to which we belong. We're not a formal 'denomination', but a family on mission, a movement, a team seeking the same purpose! Having long been a loosely defined relational cluster of churches within the wider Salt & Light UK family for many years, in 2017 the group now called "Salt & Light Advance" started to be more clearly defined, led by Steve and Bev Jones, with churches located in Wales, Worcestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.
But what do Advance do? Advance supports and encourages leaders. Advance helps local churches thrive and grow. Advance runs events, for example, an annual celebration, a conference, trips to Greece, and the Relentless Youth camp. You can see more here.
In June 2023, a review, initiated by Steve, has led to a number of changes happening over the last few months. Steve (with Bev) has felt an increasing sense of calling to pioneer societal transformation in the city of Oxford and beyond, and he asked whether he might be released from his responsibility of leading Advance to more fully pursue this vision.
Rich and Anna have come back to the UK, with a sense of God's leading, and have responded positively to the request to assume the leadership of Advance, to form a new apostolic team, and to lead the family of churches together into a new season.
If you're interested, there's more detail about this on the Advance website here.
From an Oxford point of view, we're excited to have more of Steve and Bev's undivided focus in leading us as a church into all that God wants in this season. We're excited to form new relationships with Rich and Anna, and the new apostolic team they will be forming. And we're excited to receive Rich as our guest preacher this coming Sunday, and Anna helping lead worship!