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Drive In Carols – Special Delivery

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Five local Aylesbury churches (Broughton, Kingsbrook Community Church, St James’ Bierton, St Peter’s Quarrendon and Church on Berryfields) have joined forces with Aylesbury Town Council and Tesco Broadfields to ensure that local residents can still experience the Christmas message of comfort and joy this year, despite the pandemic.

On Sunday 20th December at 6.30pm, Tesco’s car park will be transformed into an open air ‘drive in’ carol service. Those attending will be asked to stay in their cars, which will be at least 2 meters apart, but will be invited to wind their windows down to listen to and enjoy a jam packed program of traditional and contemporary carols.

Various businesses are involved, providing camera equipment, drones, a PA system and video wall to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy the service whilst remaining socially distanced and following all Government guidelines.

One of the organisers, The Revd. Phil White, vicar at Broughton Church, said of the event,

“We have been overwhelmed by the support of the local community; from Thames Valley Police, to the Council, to local people keen to be there – it has been quite astonishing and shows just how much people value the spirit of Christmas and the sense of community and cohesion it brings.

“We know this year has been hard on everyone and we just wanted to make sure that the Church community could provide a little solace and respite for those that need it.”

Organisers are asking people to decorate their cars to get into the festive spirit and to bring warm drinks and Christmas snacks as refreshments will not be available. The team behind the event are keen to point out that people must adhere to social distancing measures put in place to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable, safe experience. They also advise getting their early to ensure that people can gain access, as there will be a strict first come, first admitted basis. However, the service will be live streamed so that people can enjoy it safely at home if they wish.

For more information, please contact Rev. Phil White and to find out what other churches in the Diocese are doing for Advent and Christmas, click here.

Quarrendon’s community garden is blooming marvellous

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A church community garden is providing a multitude of benefits on one of the Diocese’s most deprived estates.

2017: A Year with Bishop Steven – Trains, car and planes

Aylesbury, Burnham and Slough and Woodstock were the deaneries Bishop Steven visited recently on his ongoing tour.

This month’s visits had a much more urban theme. I was shown some of the vast new housing estates going up around Aylesbury. I learned about new initiatives and communities in both town and country. The deanery was bursting with life and creativity, it seemed.

Woodstock (I was told) is most definitely a town not a village. The population of the deanery is focused in the south and looks towards Oxford. One of the surprising features of the day was a visit to the Owen Mumford factory, which makes medical instruments. Owen Mumford make around 1.5 million single use disposable instruments every day and are one of the largest employers in the area. One tenth of their workforce are in research and development: not a bad lesson for the Church to reflect on.

Burnham and Slough is one of our largest and most complex deaneries. Almost 200,000 live there – 160,000 in Slough itself (Woodstock, for comparison, has a population of 25,000). Transport was one of the major themes of the day. It was noticeably slower to get around. Our routes would take us across or next to the M25. Crossrail is a major feature, already changing the life of the town and driving up property prices still further. This in turn puts pressure on families in many different ways: adult children find it hard to move out of the family home; both partners in a marriage work long hours. Slough is a place of many races and cultures and faiths. The possibility of the development of a third runway at Heathrow will shape and reshape Slough in a very significant way over the next decade.

I found the Church in Slough in very good heart: missional; hopeful; celebrating fresh initiatives and new Christians. One of the highlights of my day was meeting Queenie and her family, members of the extensive traveller community who have recently been confirmed.

The Church of England has remarkable reach. Contrast ministry in these three places: a tiny village of 600 houses north of Woodstock with a much-appreciated house for duty priest who looks after three churches in the parish. At the heart of the village is a community shop, staffed and led by members of the church. A secondary school on the edge of Aylesbury with new housing growing up as far as the eye can see, where a young pioneer minister is creating a new church community by love and prayer and sheer hard work.

The old parish church in the centre of Slough is a space where the poorest members of the community shelter at night because they have no homes. It is a place where the Church sustains a lively, faithful witness in a fast-changing multicultural urban landscape. The Diocese of Oxford is amazing. 21 deaneries behind me now but the journey’s not over yet. This month it’s more urban areas: Milton Keynes, our largest, fastest growing centre of population; Maidenhead and Windsor; Reading and, by contrast, Vale of the White Horse.

Podcast

Bishop Steven at Aylesbury

Bishop Steven visit to Aylesbury Deanery talking about his vision for the diocese