The first Minsters were founded in the early days of British Christianity as resourcing centres of mission, worship, prayer and teaching, and the word is drawn from the latin ‘monasterium’ – or monastery. Christianity progressed throughout northern Europe in its first centuries- first through the institutionally minded Romans, then by the organic dynamism of the Celts, and then by a fusion of these two. The minsters existed at this time as resourcing hubs, to respond to the spiritual needs of neighbourhoods and communities and who seek to establish or revive churches, whilst continuing to work, worship, pray and study.
Latimer Minster, began in September 2010, with the hope that we might try to bring together those parts of life which are often pulled apart – worship, prayer, the mind, business, community and the land, and allow us space to experiment and seek lived out answers for the large proportions of young adults who are going through life without relating to a God who loves them. Apart from location, there was also the vision of a barn-style church re-using the skills of the past to create a place of worship designed for the future, and the name – Latimer – known to Oxford’s residents as one of the Martyrs of the reformation, burned at the Stake in the town ditch in 1555, and known to Londoners in the name of two tube stations – one in the centre, and one on the perimeter.
The image in our logo is taken from the pattern of stones on Broad street, Oxford, which marks the spot where Latimer, Ridley and Cramner (Oxford Martyrs) were burned at the stake.
Hugh Latimer was an English Reformer who was killed for his faith on the streets of Oxford in 1555. As he died, he was reported to have uttered this moving phrase to his friend tied to the same stake as they were being burned: “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out”. In naming the Minster after this man we are anchoring our future in the courage of our heritage. Half way between Oxford & London with the strength of both: the energy, excitement and dynamism of London, and the depth, discipline, and resource of Oxford, South Buckinghamshire is a hub for the whole country.
With some friends from Buckinghamshire and some from London, a small congregation began to meet in a home in Beaconsfield in 2010, and after some time meeting in homes and in a local school, we moved to Stampwell Farm in the autumn of 2012, holding our first services in two barns in time for Christmas. The farm had been abandoned for some time and fallen into a state of near dereliction, but the adventure of restoration, went hand in hand with a strong sense of community and an enthusiasm be a group of people who want to learn how to love God and love their neighbours better.