LOVE Oxford, the outdoor Christian festival attracting thousands, has been shelved this summer.

But the massive worship session bringing together congregations from churches across the city will return next year.

Thousands of people gathered in Broad Street on July 16 last year.

But the event did not take place the previous year and it has now been confirmed that the tradition will go ahead every two years.

Rev Charlie Cleverly, Rector of St Aldate’s Church, which organises the celebration, said: “Love Oxford was a great success last year, with about 3,000 people gathering to worship in Broad Street.

“It’s a chance for Christians in Oxford to be at one physically, not just theoretically, and pray for the peace of the city where God has placed us.

“Last year we moved the date to July, which had its advantages, but it did mean hundreds of undergraduates were unable to attend.”

Rev Cleverly said he and other church leaders have already approached the city council to request that Love Oxford is held next year, at the end of June or at the beginning of July.

Organisers have faced difficulties in the past because it clashed with student exams.

A protocol between Oxford University colleges, the city council and a Broad Street stakeholders’ committee, says noisy events should not take place at the end of May and in June when students are studying for exams.

The Broad Street stakeholders committee includes representatives from the city and county councils, Oxford University and the Oxford colleges in and around Broad Street, Carfax ward councillors, Broad Street Traders Association and the Covered Market Traders Association.

The worship event for churches across Oxford started in Broad Street in 2005 and then switched to South Park in 2009 before returning to Broad Street in 2015.

It switched to South Park following complaints that noise in the city centre disturbed students revising.

Love Oxford did not go ahead in 2014 after organisers asked to stage the festival in June, during a ‘red zone’, when students have a busy work schedule.

It then went ahead at the start of May in 2015.

Rev Cleverly added: “I think staging Love Oxford every two years will work for everyone - it’s expensive to stage and sometimes less is more.”

Other churches which have taken part in Love Oxford include Oxford Community Church, based at the King’s Centre in Osney Mead, and the Christian Life Centre in Cowley Road.

Although the outdoor celebration is not happening this year there was a Love Oxford City Cry prayer meeting at St Andrew’s Church in Linton Road on Friday.

Rev Cleverly said people attended the special prayers session from churches associated with Love Oxford.

More than 30 individual churches invite members of their congregations to take part in the mass gathering in Broad Street.

Hymns, prayers and gospel music feature, with the worship team at the Christian Life Centre taking a leading role.

Next month St Aldate’s Church will host Art For Action for Refugee Week, starting on Friday, June 15, featuring artwork on refugee projects by Rose Illingworth.