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An introduction

I am Elaine Bardwell, the Vicar of St Michael's. I began my ministry here on March 17th 1996. My primary duties are to pray at lease twice each day (Morning and Evening Prayer), organise the main Sunday worship (the 10am Eucharist and sermon), instruct others, especially the young, in the Christian faith and provide the pastoral/sacramental care for any parishioner as required. Anyone resident within our parish boundaries may call upon me for spiritual counsel and the Occasional Offices (baptisms, banns, weddings, funerals) of the Church. I am here to serve everyone appropriately to the best of my ability whether they attend church worship or not. There are three major building blocks in my parochial life: our Church school, the Pastoral Centre (hall and offices), and the Church congregation.

My 'average' week generally consists of these main fixed points:

  • The main worship at 10am Sunday morning
  • Monday/Tuesday I teach New Testament Greek and Latin in local colleges
  • Wednesday I conduct Collective Worship in partnership with my colleague, David Paterson, at our local Church School
  • Thursday office administration and various catching up chores are done
  • Friday is my day off
  • Saturday is spent at the computer finishing and preparing resources for Sundays and keeping the administration up to date.

Most days I get up at 7am and go to bed by 11pm. Every day I try to ensure there is some time to put my feet up with a cup of tea and a rest for half an hour.

In between, on any given day, there will be emails, phone messages and personal encounters with people.

I walk around the parish, cycle whenever possible when I need to go out of the parish and only take the car as a last resort or when someone else needs a lift to a meeting.

My Lent reading: St John of Damascus On the Divine Images

Also reading: Kate Mosse Labyrinth

I am currently working on: The Annual Parish Meeting (March), Holy Week's events (April), background material for study trip to Cappadocia (early June) and forward planning for the Summer (July to September).

Also on my mind: Detailed planning for New Testament Greek classes next term (May),sorting out seeds for the vegetable plots in the garden and I have an ongoing long term project on Ambrose of Milan – currently reading his commentary on St Luke


Current priorities

  • Eco-congregation and the environmental agenda. We are considering at the moment several projects, some relatively simple, others more challenging which would enable both the congregation and the whole community to work constructively to improve and support the environment locally and globally.
  • Theo's Cafe Church. Our radical form of worship for the first Sunday in every month has been running for 18 months now. It is still evolving and some reflection is taking place to see what further improvements might be made. We also need to think about how to advertize what we do more effectively.
  • Regular programme for social fund raising events. We are paying steep increases in our part of the Deanery Share and although we have managed to fund the church's overheads collectively as a worshipping congregation without needing to pester the rest of the parish for money (which I consider the ideal) we have now reached the stage of needing to raise income from outside our own resources. Even so the emphasis is on social networking and fun rather than just money raising alone so that we can still serve our neighbours and get to know them a little better.


Other Hats I Wear

  • In the parish I am Chair of the Pastoral Centre Trustees. There are 7 of us, a combination of community and church representatives, who are charged with the upkeep and running of a Hall and well appointed offices. The purpose of the Centre is to bring benefit to and promote the wellbeing of the people of Marston. The building is new, built 1997, and we have two very pleasant offices available for rental by a local charity at the moment. I am now fully conversant with current Charity Law and last year learnt how to make our annual return online
  • I am also Vice Chairman of our local Church School Governors and I chair the Curriculum Committee. This means I am in our school on average at least twice a week. In addition I occasionally help individual classes with an RE lesson and we welcome the whole School into St Michael's 4 times a year for special services such has Harvest.
  • I was the Area Dean of Cowley 2002-7 - which was a very busy time but good experience. I thus have a real overview of our local parishes and other institutions within the Deanery. We are the eastern half of the city of Oxford which is the most industrialized and is more akin to other Midlands cities than many might imagine.
  • I am still a representative for the Deanery on the Diocesan Synod. Again useful for learning about wider concerns including global ones such as Fair Trade.
  • Tutor in New Testament Greek: I still do a bit of teaching in Oxford. I am a Classics (as well as a Theology) Graduate and help two of the local theological colleges (St Stephen's House and Ripon College, Cuddesdon) with the teaching of Greek. This academic year I have enjoyed the extra challenge of teaching beginners classes in (Classical) Latin to help out a parishioner/friend through a temporary period of ill health. I also still give occasional talks and lectures for Diocese, Deanery and Colleges as requested in the areas of Pastoral and Mission studies and Patristics.


Me and fourth century decoration at San Ambrogio, Milan


Main interests/hobbies

You may gather from all this that my interests include:

  • Ancient Classics, Late Antiquity, and the Early Church Fathers – my focus is presently the fourth century bishop, Ambrose of Milan
  • I love history in general and have been working on my own ancestors recently.
  • I am a compulsive reader and enjoy fiction as well as non fiction.
  • I grow organic vegetables in the Vicarage garden using a system of 'raised' beds on our heavy clay soil. I recently increased the number to 8 beds using a four year rotation method for the main groupings. We are still eating last year's onions and shallots and have runner beans in the freezer. I am behind with planting this year's produce...
  • I also enjoy music, listening to a wide variety of forms and getting a lot of enjoyment out of my ipod. I find the free download of the week is an interesting way of finding new music – I still miss John Peel's radio programme.


Lots more I could put in here but this is enough for now.


Elaine B




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