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The OCMS Week

A week in the life of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies


The week begins when the building is opened, fresh milk for the staff and student teas and coffee is put in the fridge, and the lights go on. Everyone who comes in and out of the Centre signs in to help us comply with fire regulations and at 9.30 the Senior Leadership Team meet to pray for the staff, students, partners and supporters. Some students who are in residence pop in on their way to a different library in the city, or settle themselves in one of the library carrels for the day. Often scholars will read the paper, sent out in advance of the Seminar on Wednesday. This is a vital task for those in residence.

At 3pm, daily, staff and students are invited to gather to pause for prayer. The purpose of this 5 minute time is to provide a shared space where we

  • acknowledge God’s presence among us
  • declare our faith in some way together
  • allow the word of God to speak to us


The second busiest day of the OCMS week, Tuesday is when we hold our open lecture. Scholars have a mandatory number of lectures and/or seminars they have to attend a year, both to ensure they get exposed to a broad variety of research methods and skills, and to meet stringent validation and visa regulations. The majority of those invited to speak at a Montagu Barker Lecture are from outside the centre, and the subject range is enormous. The lecture is followed by questions, and then by tea and coffee and informal discussions about the subject.

Many scholars will take time on a Tuesday to see their in-house mentor or supervisor. Carrels are at a premium and the kitchen buzzes at lunchtime with folks sitting chatting as they eat.

At 3pm we gather in the Nave to pause for prayer.

OCMS SeminarWednesday

Wednesday is community day for OCMS. Chapel starts at 9.30 prompt, usually with the call of a gong. Led by a different member of staff, faculty or a scholar each week, the cultural flavour of worship varies each week. Our speakers come from outside the immediate community and from inside and the quality of preaching at this service is consistently high and a source of delight and spiritual sustenance for those who work and those who study at OCMS. Prayer requests and answers are shared, and usually we have a time of either small group or quiet individual prayer - people are free to pray as they find comfortable. And news is shared, of those who have arrived that week, and those who have completed their annual residency, of alumni and partner organisations and of events of interest.

After tea, coffee and informal fellowship following Chapel, at 11am the weekly Student Seminar commences. Led by an OCMS scholar, participants must have read the advance paper and come prepared to contribute in the form of listening, asking points of clarification or questions and offering different perspectives or insights into the subject area or the methodologies being discussed.

The seminar is followed at 1pm with the weekly community lunch, served by Flora. Staff and students alike take this opportunity to introduce guests to the OCMS community, and often supervisors will try to come in for meetings on a Wednesday afternoon so they can take advantage of the delights of the community meal as well as see their students. At 3pm we meet to pause for prayer.


Generally a quieter day, there are nonetheless meetings that can take place today as on any day. A student may meet a supervisor, or there may be other visitors to the Centre, or maintenance work or the like. Scholars enjoy the relative peace and quiet, or take themselves to one of the other city libraries to borrow books and journals from other parts of the Oxford University Library.

Again, at 3pm, we meet for pause for prayer.


This is generally the quietest day of the week in the building. But still there are students in the carrels and some meetings take place in the faculty or seminar rooms. At 3pm, it is the last pause for prayer meeting of the week.

Saturday and Sunday

OCMS is not open on these days. All students are warmly encouraged to attend a local church on a Sunday, and to take some rest and time to think and pray. This is as important an element of the study programme as the lectures, meetings with supervisors and community lunch. It helps to prepare us all for the next week ahead.

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