Clerics get ready for their double shift
by Ed Beavan
|CLERGY are determined to go the extra mile on St Stephen’s Day this year, even if the snow is crisp and even. Although Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, most are planning a full set of Sunday services.
Some cathedrals are increasing the number of services on St Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day. Truro Cathedral will have its normal services, a morning eucharist, and evening prayer (though without the choir); but, additionally, it will be holding a children-and-pets carol service at 2 p.m.
Lichfield Cathedral has its normal 8 a.m. BCP eucharist, and 10.30 a.m. sung eucharist; it will also hold an extra carol service in the afternoon, which last year attracted 800 people.
The Dean, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, explained that they wanted to put on a full programme “to act as a support to the parish system”, which was not always so well resourced. “On St Stephen’s Day, we will keep the normal pattern of services as well as our second carol service. In the past we’ve found this has been a good thing, as it has been attended by parish groups who have less resources than us.”
Attendances when Christmas fell at a weekend were “buoyant”, Dean Dorber said. “At Christmas, many people are in search of meaning and truth and beauty. But, on a more mundane level, churchgoing can be a pressure valve to get out from being cooped up with family.”
This view was borne out by a retired priest from the diocese of Chelmsford, Canon Hugh Beavan, who said that, in his experience in a suburban parish, people often came to church on St Stephen’s Day “because they had nothing better to do”, and because Christmas Day was now so busy. The danger clergy face if they changed the normal pattern of services was that people would turn up at the normal times anyway out of habit.
The Archdeacon of Carlisle, the Ven. Kevin Roberts, said that, as far as he was aware, it would be an ordinary Sunday in his area.
“My overall impression is clergy will be running normal services on St Stephen’s Day, and there will be no regret about giving time and effort to that. Attendance levels often surprise me at Christmas, as there are a lot of people visiting families who attend.”
The Archdeacon of Bodmin, the Ven. Clive Cohen, said that there would be a full pattern of services in his area, because that was what the clergy “are called to do”, although some rural benefices would combine services. It was possible, though, that attend-ance would be affected by people’s being away, and the close proximity to Christmas Day.