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From The Vicar - October 2020

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Over the last week or so, we’ve enjoyed some beautiful weather, and lovely sunsets.

Muntjac and foxes have been regular visitors in the rectory garden, and we continue to enjoy a wide range of birds visiting our feeders.  A wren has been one of my favourite visitors over the past week or so.

As I sit here reflecting on the wildlife which visits the rectory garden, I find my thoughts turning towards the churchyards across the Benefice of Garsington, Cuddesdon and Horspath.  Each village is blessed with a beautiful churchyard, and with a team of volunteers and others who keep them looking tidy.  I’m sure it must be a constant challenge to achieve the correct balance between ensuring access for those wishing to visit graves and visit our churchyards for peaceful contemplation, whilst also ensuring they provide shelter and food for the mammals, insects and birds we also love to see in our churchyards.

I wonder what interesting wildlife you have seen in our churchyards this year?  I’ve not seen a great deal, though I have enjoyed watching red kites circling overhead, and watching roe deer in the fields below St Mary’s, Garsington.  I’ve also enjoyed the sound of birdsong, which has accompanied some of the burials and outdoor services I’ve led in recent months.

During September, as a Benefice, we’ve begun to experiment with outdoor worship.  We began with an Outdoor Eucharist (Holy Communion) in Garsington, for our Benefice Celebration Day on the 6th September.  Our next outdoor service was especially for children and the young at heart, outside St Giles’ Horspath, as we learned about St Giles and the deer who was his companion, and enjoyed some informal worship and activities. 

In October and November, we hope to develop and extend our outdoor worship – though we haven’t yet manged to finalise all the dates and venues (and a rise in coronavirus infection rates may yet scupper our plans).  We intend to hold an outdoor pet blessing service outside St Giles on Saturday 10th October, at 11am.  I hope we might hold a similar service outside All Saints, Cuddesdon or St Mary’s, Garsington, on 3rd or 17th October.  And I hope, that alongside our normal Remembrance Sunday acts of remembrance at our village war memorials, we might also offer an outdoor service for children and the young at heart on a Saturday morning in November.

It is difficult to plan ahead for Advent and Christmas, with the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, but we again hope to be able to offer some outdoor worship during this period – alongside worship in our village churches.

We will seek to advertise Outdoor Church, and other worship, on church and village noticeboards.  

However, the best way of finding out what is happening around the benefice is to subscribe to our e-newsletter (email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and follow us on social media @BeneficeGCH.

If it’s a while since you’ve been to an ‘ordinary’ church service, or if you don’t feel safe worshiping inside a church, perhaps you’ll find that our outdoor worship offers a safe space for you to explore your relationship with the God who loves you more than you could imagine.

I hope to see you soon, either at our worship outside or inside our church buildings, or out and about around the villages of Garsington, Cuddesdon and Denton, and Horspath.

God bless.

Karen x

P.S. In the light of rising infection rates and new restrictions announced on 22 September, we are reviewing whether it is wise and safe to introduce Outside Church at this time.  Please subscribe to our e-newsletter for further updates.  Many thanks.