Another Christmas period in the Diocese of Sheffield has seen a broad range of celebrations, reflections and activities taking place.
Alongside the national Church of England’s ‘Follow the Star: Join the Song’ campaign, places of worship locally have been celebrating the birth of Jesus in a variety of ways.
We’re spotlighting just a few of the events which have helped to capture the imagination of Christians and the wider world alike:
Nearly 10,000 visitors came to Sheffield Cathedral across five nights from the 5th-9th December for the return of the Luxmuralis lightshow. More than 9,300 tickets were sold in advance, along with complimentary tickets, competition winners and further passes sold as walk-ups.
This forecourt was opened up to enable the public to observe beautiful projections across the ancient walls of the cathedral and listen to the uplifting soundscape. Each visitor was guided on a journey through the cathedral following the three wise men. Contemporary light and sound artwork brought to life stained-glass windows and beautiful paintings, taking people to the heart of the Nativity story.
At Rotherham Minster, 10,391 people visited Rotherham Minster to see the Museum of the Moon during late November, in the build up to Advent.
Visitors were welcomed from every ward in Rotherham, across England and as far away as Denmark and the USA! The event was free to visit for everyone:
- 96 hours of creative activity took place
- 994 people attended creative workshops run by 18 artists and creatives
- 110 performers, exhibitors and experts shared their stories, music, artwork and knowledge
- 178 Children took part in school workshops with Grimm & Co, Amazelab and Children’s Capital of Culture
- 9 local businesses were involved in supporting the festival
- 59,991 people were collectively reached across social media channels
Some of the testimonies from people who left reviews:
“All of it really, the music playing, the setting it was amazing! My 4 year old was amazed! Would love to go again.”
“The size and illumination of the moon and my 3 year old granddaughter’s face when she saw it…..priceless!”
“It was beautiful. My son wasn’t sure at first, but he ended up loving it. We took time around the Minster and he asked why people lit candles, when I explained why, he took two and told me who he was thinking of when he lit them. Very emotional.”
“The size of the moon & the gasp I took when I first saw it in the Minster. It was a wow moment.”
“The atmosphere in the venue was perfect. The installation itself was spectacular.”
Doncaster Minster had 10,000 visitors for their ‘Festival of Light’ – the fifth time an event of this kind has been held. Taking place from 24th November-3rd December, various artworks were showcased throughout the Minster building by the group ‘Universal Everything.’
These events were also an opportunity to hand out additional information on Christmas services taking place throughout December.
Revd Sue Hammersley: St Mark’s Broomhill
St Mark’s church in Sheffield held their second Big Queer Carols service for the LGBTQIA+ community on Sunday 10th December 2023.
Big Queer Carols matches the vision of St Mark’s as it is an inclusive church. St Mark’s strives to practise a living, thinking, loving, faith and to celebrate the wonderful diversity of human life. This vision is founded on the belief that Jesus revealed God’s love to all people. The church encourages everyone to join in God’s work of transformation and hope, including those who are excluded, marginalised and misunderstood.
There was a full church for the service led by Reverend Sue Hammersley on 10 December. Attendees were of all ages, including many friendship groups and families with their young children. The crowd was full of smiling faces, warm responses to the readings and loud and uplifting carol singing led by volunteers from Sheffield’s LGBTQ+ choir, Out Aloud.
The event was deeply moving, a sign that people’s faith in God is strong enough to survive some dreadful experiences within churches. Many participants said that they hadn’t been in a church for many years and that this had been a healing experience.
Revd Canon Eleanor Robertshaw, Snaith Priory
Christmas really began here on the 1st of December with the light switch on in Snaith along with the Christmas Market on the High Street and in the Priory. What followed was a fantastic whirlwind of events including outdoor carols services, Christmas Fayres and School Christingles. Also, on Christmas Eve we held our Church Nativity Service at Pollington and Christingles at Hensall and Cowick, along with our Candlelit service at Snaith Priory. Many of our communities will tell you that Christmas does not start until they have been to one of our services on Christmas Eve and for those who are very hardy, that means ‘Midnight Mass’ at Cowick!
But while all these festivities were continuing, we also tried to keep Advent in our main church’s services, our Advent study group and in our School services and Assemblies. There we talked about what it was like in the past when we had VCRs instead of film streaming and how we had to wait, just as we wait for Christmas. I was amazed how many under tens knew what a VCR was!
Christmas was extra special this year as it was a first ordained Christmas for Curate Chris Hutchinson, a first Christmas as Priest for Curate Michael Towle who presided at Communion on Christmas Eve and a first Christmas authorised at a Focal Minister for Keith Lunn who took one of the Christingle services. What a great joy to see them all flourish in their new roles!
Revd Canon Ian Smith: Warmsworth, Wadworth, Loversall and Balby
Trying to think differently at Christmas, I offered 3 carol services in 3 locations using what one of the curates has dubbed ‘Carol and Conversation’ style. It went down very well and the feedback has been wholly positive. So, what was it? A sequence of traditional carols, short Christmas readings interspersed by calling up some members of the congregation to ask them a few questions; what do you remember most about Christmas when you were young? What is the most important thing about Christmas to you now? What would be the Christmas food where you grew up? There was a quiz with a prize – how many Christmases had the Oversight Minister experienced (range was 50 to 93). Each service was under an hour, excellent refreshments to follow and in our café, church concluded with singing “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer” and “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” So many smiles and good conversations. Hard to think of returning to 9 lessons and carols afterwards.
Revd Ben Tanner: All Saints Totley
This Christmas we welcomed over 2,000 people to our Christmas events and services. In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, our culture is yearning for the unchanging message of God’s truth and love.
It’s been a busy but wonderful few weeks as we shared the hope of Christmas with our community at All Saints Totley. In addition to our Christmas Experience event, we held school carol services, family carols, carols in the pub, a traditional candlelit midnight communion, and Carols by candlelight services. Though constantly evolving, today’s culture cannot find meaning apart from the eternal truths of God that speak to our deepest needs. Over the last few weeks, it was our privilege to help over two thousand people reflect on and encounter Jesus Christ. May He be glorified as He draws people to Himself this Christmas and always.