The story starts in 1956. It was raining: ‘Here we are, two Oxford men living and working at the Cambridge University Mission! Wouldn’t it be great for Oxford, the OICCU, to have a similar venture! There is energy in the ranks of the OICCU to empower such service. And if we could find a place where a residency could be established, then future generations of Christian workers could benefit from the training opportunities….’ (from the ‘OK Story’ – see below)
In the mid 1950’s a group of Christians working in London, former students at Oxford, met to consider and pray about providing services to young people in a deprived area. This group included Crispin (now Lord) Brentford & Tim Dudley-Smith (sometime Bishop of Thetford & President of the Evangelical Alliance) and Andrew Pierssene. The project was promised the continuing support of the Inter-Collegiate Christian Union at Oxford (OICCU).
The original Oxford Boys’ Club Trust was formed in 1958, and the following year the disused St. Luke’s Hall was purchased – “The best church hall in Middlesex” (at the time!). The first warden, Andy Pierssene, recruited local young people and helpers from nearby churches to carry out the significant refurbishment required. The Club opened officially in Autumn 1961.
In 1972, someone wrote an observation of a visit to Club: ‘a wonderful feeling of controlled chaos, kids chasing about at top speed – in the middle of it all, a calm Club Leader’. So it continues today. We continue to sow the seeds of the Gospel and sometimes reap a harvest.
The early club had a full-time warden, but was otherwise staffed by volunteers. Trips were arranged to Wales (rent-free, in exchange for the installation of windows), Oxford, (by home-made canoe); and Yugoslavia. Teams entered football, table tennis and cycling competitions. Despite the name, various activities for girls were started. There was even a club stock car! ‘Epilogue’ sessions after Clubs allowed young people the space for discussion and questioning about faith and much else.
This is a (very) abridged version of The OK Story, by Brian Stansfield, John Kinder and many others, telling the story until 2006. You can download it (pdf, 4MB).