about st marys
What sort of church are we?
Standing in the very centre of Oxford, the University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the spiritual heart of the oldest university in Britain, and has been the focus of Christian worship and of debates about religion, politics, and morality for over seven hundred years.
Today we have several functions:
  • Church of England parish church, with a flourishing congregation
  • University Church, hosting University services, memorial services, and theological events
  • Tourist attraction visited by over three hundred thousand people a year
  • Promoting thinking on climate change, interfaith issues, and local community
  • Popular concert venue
  • Location for Vaults and Garden Cafe
  • Conference venue
Our worship is primarily Eucharistic and enhanced, during term, by the splendid University Church Choir. Out of term we welcome visiting choirs.
Belief statement
This building has seen historical events associated with people of very different theological opinions - Duns Scotus, Thomas Cranmer, John Wesley and John Henry Newman stand out – and today we recognise that the variety of religious beliefs grows larger, yet remain grounded in scripture and the creeds as a base for exploration. In St Anselm’s famous phrase, we exercise a faith seeking understanding.
Mission statement
PARISH CHURCH
As a Church of England parish church our purpose is to proclaim the love of God openly. We are committed to an eclectic congregation drawn from Oxford and the surrounding area. We are open-minded, community spirited and committed to thoughtful theology and radical ideas.
UNIVERSITY CHURCH
We are committed to the pastoral care of any member of the University who seeks our help and to providing formal worship of the highest standard for specific University occasions.
INTER-FAITH
We are committed to promote friendship and conversation between people of different faiths in the city.
PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY
We are committed to social action at home and abroad. In the 1940s, Oxfam was founded here in response to famine in Greece and German-Jewish converts to Christianity were welcomed into the St Mary's community. In Oxford we were instrumental in the foundation of the Gatehouse Drop in Centre and we support work with children both in Pakistan and Kuruman, South Africa, through our staff member Charlotte Bannister Parker. We also support the Street Pastors project in Oxford.
VISITOR CENTRE AND TOURIST SITE
We are committed to welcoming many visitors and pilgrims to the church. We intend through development to make better provision for visitors, offering both educational and spiritual experience. With the beatification of JH Newman in September 2010 we expect to receive more pilgrims. Our Vaults and Gardens Cafe is committed to providing organic, fair-traded, and locally resourced food together with friendly, smiling service.
THE BUILDINGS
We are committed to the conservation and optimal use of our building's heritage.
CONCERT HALL
We welcome concert givers from the City, University, and from around the world. We are committed to improving facilities for this part of our work.
CONFERENCE VENUE
We are committed to welcoming meetings, seminars, classes, and conference, both charitable and commercial into our Old Library complex.

AS A CHURCH WE STAND AT THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN RELIGIOUS FAITH AND THE SECULAR WORLD
For a schedule of the concerts, please visit our concerts page.
For a schedule of services, please visit our worship services page.
design copyright university church 2009  —     photos by greg smolonski, and Mike Peckett