When visiting the Philadelphia area in November of 2015 we visited several different suburbs. Culturally speaking we come from Manchester, which you know is a rural setting. We never believed God was calling us into the heart of Philly, but still had a drawing to the area. We are small town people. Oxford has a population in the zipcode of 17,847, which is a 35% increase since the year 2000. The population is expected to grow another 3.5% percent between 2016 and 2021. The size of town is very similar to Manchester. As a matter of fact there are several similarities between Oxford and Manchester. Both have an emphasis on a healthy downtown areas. Both have a farmers market. Both are about an hour from two major cities. Oxford is one hour from Philadelphia and about one hour from Baltimore. We believe we have an opportunity to influence both major metropolitan cities as people who live in Oxford work and play in these two cities. However, 57.5% of households are described as “Established Country Families”. There’s still very much a rural flavor to the community, as best we can tell, at this point. With the population growth people who are not from Oxford have relocated there. I believe this is because they want a more rural lifestyle, even if they have to work closer to Philadelphia. With this growth comes a great time for a church planter to move in, build relationships, share the Gospel and start a new church.
Oxford is located in the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, but it’s the second poorest town in the county according to the Chamber of Commerce in Oxford. The average income in Oxford is about $87,000/year. We believe the more rural context and income demographics seem to indicate our family will fit in well as we make the transition.
The family structure in Oxford seems to be very traditional with an above average number of married people or two parent homes. While that seems like great news, some of the issues that most concern people in Oxford deal with day-to-day financial worries, better quality health care, adequate food, health insurance, parenting skills, and dealing with stress. We believe the Gospel offers hope to families and individuals who are facing these issues. We also believe, that given my background in Biblical Counseling, we’re more prepared to help people deal with these issues as we build relationships and establish trust with the people of Oxford.
We've seen God's faithfulness in Manchester and we're grateful for our family and friends that are here. God has been so kind to allow us so much time in this town. We thank God for the opportunities we enjoy and for the people we know. It's your kindness in loving our family that gives us confidence that God's with us and he's preparing a people for us to meet and share our lives with. As usual, we're grateful for your prayers, support and encouragement along the way!