St Mary the Virgin, Witney
Saint Mary's is a dynamic, growing church. We take seriously the call of the Church to simply worship God as her primary vocation. Our life as a community is based around the regularity and repetition of the Eucharist. We believe we are called to be a community of mercy and kindness who offer radical hospitality. Our ministry of feasts and festivals shows this in an active way. We also know the power of learning by laughing.
We are an inclusive church embracing a hospitable Christianity. The community of St Mary’s, Witney, is delighted that our church is a member of the Inclusive Church Network. We extend a big, warm, open invitation to everyone and anyone to come and join us, irrespective of gender, race, age, sexuality, wealth, background, education, or social status.
'People just coming to the church building is already a mystery. A divine reality is hidden in their concrete coming...Behind every one of the baptized who has come to celebrate the Eucharist, stands a magnificent personal story of grace, of struggle, and labour and rejoicing, and of all these united around that person's faith.' Jerry Driscoll OSB
We are the main and civic church for the town of Witney. Saint Mary’s was re-dedicated in 1243, although an earlier church stood on this site. We have an active role as the focus of civic ceremonies and outreach to the town and wider area. We are regularly used for special services such as Remembrance Sunday, the Mayor’s Carol Service, and BBC Radio Oxford broadcasts. However as the focal point of many local people’s lives, we also have strong pastoral links for baptisms, weddings and funerals. And we are excited by the future.
As one priest put it, ‘hope hears the music of the future – and faith dances to it’
We are engaged in a £1.5 million restoration and renewal project, Inspiring Change. There are a number of people exploring vocation. The church building hosts many outreach programmes and events, including an annual Food Festival; an annual Beer Festival; a conference for the Society of Catholic Priests on the Hospitality of God and Diocesan Mission Conferences. Prior to COVID. over 60,000 people have come through our doors annually and been welcomed.
We are committed to mission and outreach as a vital part of our life together. We pray that the church will grow and flourish as communities of Christ have done through the centuries. With the confidence of our patron, the young woman of Nazareth, we try to capture a vision which, like God, is ‘rich in mercy’.
As S Bernard said of Mary ‘Following her, you will never lose your way; imploring her, you will never know despair; thinking of her, you will avoid all errors. With her support, you will not fall; with her protection, you will have nothing to fear; under her guidance you will never be tired; thanks to her favour, you will reach the goal.’
At St Mary's we are committed to:
living as a community nourished by the Eucharist, sustained by scripture and prayer, and building the church in unity and faith
deepening our lives of faith in the beauty and holiness of worship
sharing in a transformational experience which shapes our individual and corporate journeys of faith
living as a community where our teaching, mission and ministry are refined and energised by God
deepening our sacramental life, linking life experience to the story of faith
sharing our lives in the love, joy and hope of the risen Christ
living as agents of God's love
deepening our understanding of God's call on each of us to be his hands in the world
sharing wholeness and care among God's hurting people
living out the Gospel beyond the walls of the church
deepening our expectant and watchful attitude as we look signs of God's kingdom in the world
sharing the joy and simplicity of faith, wherever people are
living joyful, generous lives
deepening our heritage as a place of hospitable Christianity where lives are renewed and refreshed together
sharing open, inclusive, sacrificial fellowship
Other Service Times in the parish can be found here.
Click here to take a Virtual Tour of Saint Mary’s church
On Sundays - Church Green and The Leys have no restrictions.
On Weekdays - There are various time restrictions on Church Green - please note the signs. The Leys offers free all-day parking. Please avoid driving onto the church path as many pedestrians and cyclists use the gateway, and the entrance is tight - damage can easily be done to both cars and stonework.