THE new vicar of a Headington Quarry church says she is ‘humbled’ to have been appointed and plans to expand the church’s connection to famed author CS Lewis.

Laura Biron-Scott will take the reins at the Holy Trinity Church, Quarry Road, in June, after former vicar Tim Stead stepped down last year.

Speaking of her appointment the 35-year old said: “I was delighted and amazed.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility in being vicar of such a big and vibrant parish, and it is humbling to know that I will be building on the legacy of previous vicars who have served the parish so faithfully.

“Headington Quarry is a welcoming, outwards-looking and inclusive parish church, and I am thrilled to be taking up the post.”

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Asked what her priorities and goals were for when she takes on the role later this year she said part of her plans was to expand on the church’s connection with Narnia author CS Lewis.

The author worshipped at the church and is now buried in the graveyard.

Mrs Biron-Scott said: “My first priority is to get to know as many people as possible, both within the congregation and in the parish more widely.

“From these conversations, we can build a shared vision and identify our priorities for the next few years.

“I do have particular goals in mind which I spoke about at my interview.

“These include developing our work with children and young people, promoting our environmental work as an ‘Eco Church’, and making more of our connection with CS Lewis, whose writings continue to inspire millions of people across the globe, both young and old alike.

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“But the most important thing for me to do as the new vicar will be to listen, reflect and build good relationships with those around me. Ministry is always a shared endeavour and I am really lucky to be working with such a great team of people.”

Asked about some of the specific challenges for the community of Headington Quarry as vicar she said: “There will be challenges ahead and the church identified some as part of the application process for my post.

“We are a geographically diverse parish, and we would like to think more about how to connect the different strands of our community: Headington Quarry, Risinghurst and Wood Farm.

“Another need in our parish is for more youth work and support, and we are keen to address this.

“We also have a building project in process, and I hope that the arrival of a new vicar will offer a new start and a chance to move this forwards positively.”

The married mother-of-one, who is originally from Canterbury, has been an assistant curate in the parish of Kidlington with Hampton Poyle for the past three years.

She has also spent time working and living in the USA and Germany which she says has ‘broadened’ her horizons and ‘fostered a love of travel’.

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Former Vicar at Holy Trinity Tim Stead.

Speaking of her personal interests she said: “We all play musical instruments, so I anticipate the vicarage will often be filled with the sound of music.”

She first got involved in church life at age 11, she says, having walked into a small parish church and picking up a booklet about Christian faith.

She said: “This convinced me that I wanted to make Christianity the foundation of my life.

“It was quite a big step from this point to becoming a vicar – I didn’t know any female vicars at that time, so I don’t think it even crossed my mind.”

She then went on to study philosophy and gained a PhD before working for a number of years as an academic philosopher at Cambridge University, Georgetown University, the University of Virginia and the University of Kent.

She added: “I slowly found my faith evolving as it confronted difficult and complex questions.

“After a long process of reflection, I decided that ordination was the next step for me, and I haven’t really looked back since.

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“I love all the opportunities in parish ministry to connect with so many different people and talk about all that the Christian faith means to me. Fortunately, I also love drinking tea.”

Asked what sort of vicar Headington Quarry can expect from her said: “I am passionate about teaching and Christian education, and I think it’s important to give an intelligent account of the Christian faith to curious inquirers.

“I like to be ‘visible’ in the local community, so you can expect to see me out and about, I love to stop and chat. Holy Trinity is open to every resident in the parish, regardless of background or belief. I want people to know it is ‘their’ church and that they are welcome.”

When asked about the relevance of church life in 2019 she said that despite a changing society faith was more diverse than ever.

She said: “It’s true that society is changing rapidly, and there is a much greater diversity of faith and belief than in previous years.

“Churches do need to reflect on how they can best respond to these changes.

“But my experience suggests that parish churches will continue to have huge relevance in the future, for people marking life events, christenings, weddings, funerals, and to serve the local community, offering friendship, hospitality and space for people to stop and think about life’s big questions.

“For all the talk of decline — which should be taken seriously — I am really hopeful about what the future holds for parish churches like Headington Quarry.”

Laura Biron-Scott’s licensing service will be held on June 18 at 7pm at the church and her first Sunday in post will be on June 23.