Banbury Area Religious Education Centre

BAREC began its life in the 1970’s, initially supported by local churches, and supporting RE in schools and Christian education in churches.  Over the last 30 years it has moved locations and broadened its focus.

Housed in rented accommodation in the Methodist Church, Marlborough Road, it continues to support the delivery of religious education in schools, and now looks to develop knowledge and understanding of all the world faiths represented in the wider local community.  As such it is a valuable resource, being the only resource centre for religious education in Oxfordshire, and serving the needs of south Northamptonshire and inviting south Warwickshire to use it too.  The Centre is independent, relying entirely on funding from donations, subscriptions and charitable trusts for its day-to-day running costs.  It carries a range of resources: artefacts, books, videos, posters, and a limited range of research material.  Corporate membership is £20, individual membership £10.00.

The work of the Centre is constantly changing, and though only small it has big aspirations.  Each year it seeks to provide a balanced programme of events, developing religious education in schools, reaching out to the local communities and strengthening ties with the local churches.  The Centre is lucky to have the support of its patrons, Professor John Hull, Bishop Colin Fletcher Bishop of Dorchester, Tony Baldry MP, and Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, who all take a keen interest in its work.  Members of the Centre Committee represent all aspects of the community and contribute to the general running of it.  There are no paid employees of the Centre, though the Centre Manager receives an annual honorarium to cover travelling expenses.

This year we have had a full programme.  In the spring the Centre organised INSET at a local school, using its computer suite to deliver INSET on ‘Using ICT in RE with reference to the REQuest website’.  We organised visits to six different places of worship in and around Banbury, covering Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.  Later in the summer Professor John Hull came to address our Annual General Meeting.  He gave us a very enlightening, challenging and exciting talk on ‘Quality-Excellence in RE’.  It is a joy and privilege to have him supporting us.

During the autumn of 2004 we will be hosting a series of inter-faith discussions, inviting representation from the six major world faiths. This will be the third series of discussions that have been developed by the Centre, and interest in them is growing.  The Centre will be supporting the Town Mayor in hosting a multicultural evening during One World Week, and will continue to work closely with the Oxfordshire LEA Adviser for Religious Education, aiming to host further INSET for local teachers.

More details of the Centre and its work may be obtained by writing to: The Centre Manager, c/o The Methodist Church, Marlborough Road, Banbury, Oxon OX16 5BZ.  The Centre is open on Monday and Thursday afternoons between 3.00pm and 5.00pm during term time, and on Saturdays throughout the year (except Christmas and Easter weekends) from 10.00am -12noon.  We don’t have answerphone facilities, but you can ring during the above opening hours ONLY on 01295 257193.

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