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Message of thanks to our schools

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As 2020 draws to a close and we begin to reflect on the year gone by, Bishop Alan today thanked headteachers, staff and governors for their unswerving dedication and commitment.

How to smile this Christmas

This is a message from Bishop Steven for all the children in the Diocese of Oxford: in our churches and in our schools. There are more than 60 thousand of you – that’s a lot – and all of you are very special. He needs your help…

Primary school Follow the Star from Bucks to Bethlehem

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A primary school is on a mission to ‘follow the star’ from Bucks to Bethlehem before Christmas to raise money for a new outdoor building.

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.

Christmas Cheer the Charlton Way!

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Local vicar, Revd. Lisa Holmes and Charlton community celebrate Christmas in the time of Covid.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Carol-Vanning all the way…

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This year, St Mary’s Church, Cogges in Witney is taking a novel approach to celebrating Advent and Christmas to ensure that everyone can experience the comfort and joy that Christmas brings. They will be rolling out a veritable festive feast of events from online Christingle making to Advent window trails and perhaps most exciting of all, Carol-Vanning.

Local vicar, Revd. Simon Kirby explains,

“You’ve heard of carolling and caravanning, but I bet you’ve never heard of Carol-Vanning!

“This year, we’ll be travelling around the neighbourhoods of Witney, spreading a little mobile festive cheer. From the 14-17 December, we’ll be out and about in our festive camper van, stopping off to perform for local families and groups, who have booked a slot. Obviously, we will be making sure that we adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and we have asked that people stay in their front gardens or doorways whilst we sing.

“Whilst this is a fun way for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we can’t forget that for many, this has been one of the toughest years they’ve ever experienced. What has shone bright though, is the way our local community has rallied to support each other. St Mary’s has been at the heart of this community for over 900 years and seen it survive through wars, plagues and other catastrophes. Our town will get through this time and our hope and prayer is that in the face of all of the current challenges, people will know peace, joy, love and hope this Christmas.”

To ensure adherence to Government guidelines, the team behind carol- vanning offered 28 slots for local families and groups to book, which were snapped up within 48 hours! Revd. Simon confirmed that although the slots have now been booked, you won’t be able to miss the camper van as it makes its way through Witney, decked out with tinsel, lights and other festive touches.

He also reminded people to visit St Mary’s website to keep up to date with all the other Advent and Christmas activities that are taking place throughout December, culminating in an online family celebration on Christmas day at 10.30am.

For more information, please contact Revd. Simon Kirby 

Milton Keynes churches host drive-in carol service

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Churches in Watling Valley, Milton Keynes, are hosting a busy Christmas programme, including Car Park Carols, a free drive-in carol service.

Advent Online – A Celebration of Creativity

Thousands of Christians have joined together to create Advent Online, an expansive library of daily resources for churches and individuals alike.

Local vicar hopes lost sheep will help make Christmas 2020 BAA-rilliant

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Christmas might look a little different this year thanks to the Covid -19 pandemic, but All Saints’ Church in Sutton Courtenay are making sure that the Christmas message of comfort and joy still rings out across the Parish of Damascus.

Help mothers to escape poverty with Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal

Christian Aid is urging the churchgoers in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire to give generously to its Christmas Appeal, so women – particularly mothers – around the world can live full lives free from poverty, oppression and discrimination.

Ranjita and her daughter. Photo: Christian Aid.

Ranjita and her daughter. Photo: Christian Aid.

At the festive season approaches, Christians remember how, against all odds, one mother’s bravery and devotion brought her family out of danger. Today, gender inequality is a major cause and effect of poverty. It is estimated that one in three women experience gender-based violence within their lifetime, and women are four per cent more likely to live in extreme poverty than men. Approximately one third of married women in developing countries report having little or no say over their own healthcare.

“It is not right that women are still disproportionally affected by poverty, discrimination and violence.”

In India, poor and marginalised Dalit women – the most excluded of the caste system – account for 95 per cent of the 1.2 million ‘manual scavengers’. Every day, they endure hours of degrading work that involves the removing, carrying and cleaning of human excrement from latrines and sewers in return for scraps of stale bread and a few rupees.

These women are trapped in a generational cycle of manual scavenging, a practice that is technically outlawed in India, but keeps them trapped in poverty. Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, Chief Executive of Christian Aid, said: “It is not right that women are still disproportionally affected by poverty, discrimination and violence. If we give women the opportunity, they can be stronger changemakers who can transform our world. We all have God-given gifts we can use to help others – and ourselves. Women have the power to liberate themselves, their families and others from oppression; to challenge inequality; and to seek justice. Every one of God’s children has the power within them to change their lives and achieve wonderful things. They need a conducive environment to make it happen.”

Christian Aid’s local partner organisation, ARUN has helped millions of people in India break free from manual scavenging during the past decade by educating them about their rights, helping them to apply for government compensation grants, skills training, and giving them the chance to make a better life for themselves, and their families.

And you can get into the festive spirit early while supporting Christian Aid with the  Big Christmas Sing at Oxford Town Hall, from