A Year Like No Other

Christmas and Advent Reimagined across the country.

Cathedrals are re-imagining their Advent and Christmas programmes to make sure they adhere to the latest Government and Public Health guidelines and bring something of the magic and mystery of the season to visitors and worshippers alike this Christmas.

Worcester Cathedral’s Christmas tree will be decorated with lasting messages of love and support, Durham’s Nine Lessons and Carols service will be broadcast to prisoners across the country, Lincoln has ticketed its open air carol service to cope with demand, Sheffield Cathedral has launched its first community Christmas Tree Festival and Gloucester Cathedral offers a special Your Cathedral to You Christmas campaign online and in person.

This is a Christmas like no other, in a year like no other.

Worcester Cathedral has asked the community to write messages of love, support, resilience and hope this Christmas to be displayed on the cathedral’s Christmas tree and be kept as a permanent record of Worcester’s experiences of this pandemic year.

Christmas Tree cards have been sent to members of the local community, donors and supporters, both locally and across the UK for people to write their messages on, and are available to download at the Worcester Cathedral website.

Worcester Cathedral’s Chief Operating Officer Val Floy said:

“These positive words gathered together will show that Worcester is a community – that we are there for each other, and that we believe in brighter days ahead.

“We are delighted to be able to use these messages of hope in 2020 to create a record of how Worcester pulled together in an extraordinary and challenging year, to be viewed by the generations that come after us.”

You can find Worcester’s Christmas programme in full including details of its community Christmas tree festival here.

Durham Cathedra’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be broadcast to prisoners across the country for the first time this year.

Educational prison TV network, WayOut TV has produced a special pre-recorded version that will play out nationally on Christmas Eve thanks to the Reverend Canon Matthew Tetley, Managing Chaplain at HMP Durham who was reminded how the pandemic has affected those inside prison as well as those on the outside.

The Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, Vice- Dean and Precentor at Durham Cathedral said:

“To build bridges of prayer between the two institutions is a Christ-like thing to do and we do it with peace and goodwill this Christmas as we share the joy of our carols with those whose marking of Christmas will otherwise be very different from the Christmas that most of us will enjoy”.

Sheffield Cathedral hopes to be at the heart of its city’s Christmas celebrations after launching its very first Christmas Tree Festival. Thirty local businesses, charities and schools have all come together to sponsor their own tree – all safely spaced throughout the nave – and the festival has gone online too so people can vote on their favourite from the comfort of their own homes if they wish.

Ben Rossi, development manager for Sheffield Cathedral, said:

“We are extremely grateful to all the local businesses, schools and charities who have pulled together and supported the Cathedral in bringing the festival to life. If all goes well, we will host another festival next Christmas. You never know, it may become an annual event which forms part of Sheffield’s Christmas celebrations every year.”

Find more and how to see a virtual tour of the Christmas Tree Festival on the Cathedral’s website.

Gloucester Cathedral has launched it’s From Your Cathedral To You Christmas campaign to give people across the city, county and diocese a positive memory after a difficult year and hopes to bring the community safely together in joyful and spiritual celebration – either in person or online – with a variety of festive treats alongside more traditional services and carols played or sung during opening hours which will include some evenings.

There’s a family friendly trail explaining the nativity story, special festive flower arrangements and lights, a life-sized knitted Knitivity, and for the first time, the carved stone ceiling in the Quire, built as an image of Heaven on earth, will be illuminated.

Each visiting group will receive an illustrated Christmas Card with information about its online services, a prayer and a tealight candle to take home. Carols will be played or sung during opening hours which will also include some evening openings.

They have also launched a daily Digital Advent Calendar video which will be shared across social media channels and on the Cathedral website to highlight different areas of Cathedral life.

The Cathedral is hosting the Gloucestershire Sanctuary Fellowship Christmas Tree for the Homeless and encouraged the public to make decorations for the tree, and this year were the main collection point for Gloucester City Mission’s Homeless Hamper campaign which will be distributed this Sunday.

To find out more about Christmas 2020 at Gloucester Cathedral, including opening times, services and events, please visit www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk.