Across Herefordshire and South Shropshire, churches are finding creative ways to connect with their villages and towns to celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas.
“We want people to know that even with restrictions and social distancing measures; we offer a message of comfort and joy in this season,” said the Revd Guy Wilkinson from St Mary’s Almeley when he shared plans to celebrate Advent and Christmas this year. We have planned and prepared a series of fun activities to encourage people to join in from home and to do as part of their daily exercise around the village.”
This year for Advent, the church team have built an extra-large Advent wreath, with a purple candle being “switched on” each Sunday throughout Advent, and the final traditional white candle being switched on, on Christmas Day.
He added: “We’ve had to think differently about how we mark each of the Christian celebrations this year, but Advent and Christmas are the most popular. People appreciate Advent traditions as part of their build-up to Christmas and we want them to know we are always here for them.”
Tessa Wilkinson, a member of St Mary’s church in Almeley and the creator behind the advent wreath installation, plans to promote the ’switch on‘ of each Advent candle on Facebook and in the church’s weekly newsletter.
Elizabeth Shayler, churchwarden, said: “Although we don’t yet know exactly what will be
possible at Christmas, we will have as many of the traditional carols and services as we are allowed, whilst respecting social distancing measures, which are likely to remain in place. There will be a life-sized crib in the churchyard for all to see and we are planning for Almeley to be the ‘village of angels’ with a trail around the village. “
Di Brain, choir leader added: “we will also be continuing the traditional journey of Mary and Joseph from family to family, but this year each family will make their own ‘Mary and Joseph’ and each day they will travel virtually via the internet from home to home”
The details of what restrictions we will face in December are still to be worked out and shared by the Church of England. The Ven. Derek Chedzey, Archdeacon of Hereford says, “Our Churches remain open for private prayer, there will be opportunities to join in with carol singing from our doorsteps across Herefordshire and we hope that we might even be able to do this outdoors. Many of our churches are planning to share the Christmas story online and we hope that people will still enjoy hearing the message of good news with some even feeling encouraged to read it for themselves.”
St Mary’s is planning other activities including a giant Advent calendar, which will be displayed in the windows of Church House, which will show a new picture each day created by pupils at Almeley Primary school. The pictures were all judged as part of a competition held by the school and church and the winning entry will be turned into a Christmas card which will go into every home in the village with information about the Church’s Christmas services and events.