LAYPEOPLE are leading the Church of England’s Advent and Christmas campaign on social media in an effort to encourage people to attend church.
A series of short films, posted on the C of E’s YouTube channel, features members of the congregation of St Paul’s, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, explaining why Christmas is important to them, and what they value in a service. The films are accompanied by a new version of “The First Nowell”, written by the composer Bob Chilcott (News, 5 September).
The films will be shared on X/Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in the days leading up to Christmas Day, and will direct viewers to the website A Church Near You, to find a service near to where they live.
One of the films features Janice Entee and her son, Theodore. Ms Entee says: “It is so easy to lose sight of why we are celebrating Christmas. To come together and sing and have carols just centres us a bit; it transports us into the reason why we are here, the reason for the season, the reason for the celebration.”
In another film, Sandra Thompson, who is living with cancer, says: “It is a wonderful community here of people who will love you, support you, and be with you. You have that hope that God provides that he is always with you. I love singing; so carols, definitely.
“There is something about the joy and exuberance of singing about God coming into this world that I absolutely love.”
Babatunde Idowu, whose family is featured in one of the films, says: “Church is a place of refuge, church is a place where you feed your heart and hear about God.
“It is a place where you go and connect with other like-minded people — people to support you even when you are down; it is just beautiful, and when you sing the carols, it is always joyful.”
The Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Sam Corley, said: “These moving testimonies demonstrate powerfully how the Christian faith revealed in Jesus Christ is a message of love and hope that transforms lives and communities. And we want people to know that these gifts are on offer to them, too.
“So we are inviting everyone to join us in church this Christmas, and to explore their place in this amazing story we find ourselves in — that God is among us, and life will never be the same again.”