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C of E Christmas film ‘geared towards people who don’t normally attend church’

05 December 2022

YouTube/Church of England

The woman is encouraged by members of the congregation to join in carols and mince pies

The woman is encouraged by members of the congregation to join in carols and mince pies

THE Church of England has released a new video which dramatises the church life of one woman at Christmas.

The film, set to dramatic music, shows her consecutive experiences within different churches at Christmas time — from first appearing in a nativity play as a baby, through childhood, marriage, family life, and finally into widowhood. In this last scene, she is seen sitting alone at the end of a service. Her sadness is turned to joy as she is encouraged by members of the congregation to join in carols and mince pies outside.

It ends with the message: “Wherever you are on life’s journey, you’re invited to church this Christmas.” This is the theme of the Church’s advent campaign this year: Follow The Star: The great invitation, for which a variety of resources were published last week, including daily reflections, a short liturgy, and printed and online materials for the festive season (News, 2 December).

A C of E press release accompanying the film, which went live on Sunday, explains that the campaign, which is featured across its social-media channels, is “geared towards people who might not normally — or ever — attend church”.

“The advert also highlights how, alongside the joy and celebration, Christmas can be a very painful time for many people, especially those experiencing bereavement,” it says. On this theme, a special “Blue Christmas” service is to be led by the Archbishop of York on Sunday 18 December as part of the campaign. There will also be prayers, reflections, and an online event held on Christmas Day at 4 p.m. for people who are feeling alone.

The C of E’s head of digital, Amaris Cole, said: “There is no doubt that the last two Christmases have been incredibly difficult, with gatherings and services limited by Covid-19. So we’ve worked on resources to help churches issue the Great Invitation to their communities this December and welcome people back in — or to attend for the very first time.”

The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, said: “The message of this year’s Christmas campaign, couldn’t be simpler: we’re there for you — in every community in England, and in our congregations across Europe and beyond.

“People have found the last few years very difficult and my prayer is that by coming together in worship this Christmas, we can find renewed hope and inspiration.”

The Revd Steve Short, who is the Rector of St Michael and St Mary’s, Melbourne, in Derbyshire, which was among the film locations, described this as a “great experience” and a “privilege”. Tying the theme of the past two years, Follow the Star, with The Great Invitation brought together Christmas and back-to-church Sunday to great effect, he said. “Research shows that people just want to be invited to things, just as we are invited to follow Christ.”

Watch the film here.

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