"Mark’s challenge is to notice those places where women are marginalised, oppressed, and violated, and to take action to bring equality." Revd Dr Simon Woodman
When did you first come to Bloomsbury, and why?
Liz and I first came to Bloomsbury during Brian Haymes’ ministry - we had known him from Bristol, and when we were in London over the occasional weekend we started coming along for worship. The service which stands out in my memory was a Remembrance Sunday, and the sermon was on beating swords into ploughshares (Micah 4.3). The hymn after the sermon contained the lines, ‘No longer hosts encountering hosts their millions slain deplore; they hang the trumpet in the hall and study war no more.’ This vision of a world transformed, with war giving way to peace and nations finding release from the tyranny of violence, offered a compelling understanding of the gospel of Christ for all people.
What do you admire and enjoy most about the church?
Bloomsbury is a most unusual church - its unique location as a city centre congregation means that it can be a church for the whole city. This means that its reach is both far and wide. Its Sunday services offer reverent and challenging worship, inspiring and theologically informed preaching, and heartfelt prayer for the world. These are combined with a far-reaching social justice agenda, which leads to care for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, the feeding of the homeless, and the inclusion of those excluded elsewhere. The congregation is ethnically and culturally diverse, and is always ready to talk politics and to act to see the world changed and transformed in the name of Christ. It is a church with many interesting people.
What one aspect do you especially love?
The people. The church is the people, not the institution, and it is the many people who are part of Bloomsbury that make it all possible - from those who attend on a Sunday morning, to those who volunteer preparing food, to those who run Open Doors every day… I could go on, and on… The people are God’s gift to the church, and they are the saints of the church.
What do you hope for the future of Bloomsbury?
I hope Bloomsbury can continue to grow and develop as a distinctive and effective manifestation of the kingdom of God in the heart of the city.
Do you have a memorable moment of an event at the church?
When I was exploring whether Bloomsbury was a possibility for future ministry, the Sunday on which I was ‘preaching with a view to the ministry’ was the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York, and the gospel passage for that morning was on forgiveness (Matthew 18.21-35). The realisation that the church were happy for me to mix politics and theology, and to preach a gospel of peace and reconciliation, was the moment when I concluded that this was a congregation with which I wanted to work and from whom I wanted to learn.
Where can we read more about you?
My professional CV can be accessed online here: http://tinyurl.com/SPWoodmanCV
In 2017 Simon conducted a same-sex wedding and received a surprise visit from pop-star Sam Smith.