Revd Canon Dr Geoff Bayliss

Revd Canon Dr Geoff Bayliss

Geoff, moved to Oxford with his wife Mary, and was Licensed as the Rector of Cowley in Nov 2015. Alongside this, he currently  serves as Area Dean of Cowley and the Chair of the House of Clergy for the Oxford Diocesan Synod. Before this last move, he served in the Diocese of Chelmsford as an Area Dean and Rector of the North Backwater Parishes. He was ordained in 1999 and, for the next 4 years, completed his curacy as a self supporting Minister. At this time he worked as a Secondary School Science teacher.  He remains committed to education and developing learning environments. He serves as Governor in 3 local schools and is part of the Diocesan Team of tutors that deliver the Common Awards route to ordination and theological education.

Back in 2016 Geoff completed a Doctoral Study 

 "Assessing the accessibility of the liturgical texts of the Church of England: using readability formulae". 

This led to an article in the Christmas edition of the Church Times  (link).  The full thesis can be found here (link). Geoff is passionate about growing the Kingdom of God and encouraging God's people to flourish. 


Abstract of Thesis:

Is there a gap between the language used in Church of England liturgy and the language of the nation? If such a gap exists is it growing or shrinking? In 2014 an application for a street performance licence for a passion play was turned down because a local authority officer who misunderstood the meaning of passion play. The National Skills Audits (DfEE, 2003; DBIS, 2011) revealed a simple truth, many people in England find reading a challenge. The issue is complex and can be approached in many ways. One approach is through a window of readability. 

This dissertation takes standard tools used to assess readability into this new area, liturgy. It reviews the variables that affect the readability of a text and tells something of the developmental path of readability formulas. In the context of Church of England liturgy it considers changes in use of vocabulary (Sherman, 1893) within Communities of Practice (Wenger, 1999). Three readability formulas are used: SMOG (Mc Laughlin, 1969), Dale Chall Reading Age (1948, 1995) and the Flesch Reading Ease Score (Flesch, 1948). Such formulas consider the impact on readability of polysyllabic words, familiarity of text and sentence length. The resulting analysis plots the changes in the readability statistics of liturgical texts over time showing a trend towards the writing of text with more comfortable readability statistics. It is demonstrated that texts containing longer sentences are also likely to contain greater percentages of both polysyllabic words and challenging less familiar words. 

Against the National Skills Audits (DfEE, 2003; DBIS, 2011) these results are used to consider the appropriateness of the liturgical texts of the Church of England for use in England today. The results reveal that, when measured against a framework of readability, more than 43% of the population are challenged by nearly 50% of the written liturgical texts used by the Church of England. A list of 33 frequently used, community specific, challenging words, are isolated. It is recognised that the use of these may be hard to avoid. Alongside these occur over 900 other challenging words. Part of chapters 4 to 11 consider how the 
sentiments and message of currently used liturgical texts might be couched in forms that produce more comfortable readability statistics. Chapter 9 considers how the readability of the marriage service changes as the liturgy progresses and recognises that some texts can present particular challenge. Recommendations concerning future liturgical texts are made. This includes bringing into view optional texts that generate more encouraging readability statistics. 

Please feel free to use any of the information held in the thesis, but give credit to its' source.