Church leaders welcome upturn in festive congregations

Bucks Free Press: Rev'd Dave Bull Rev'd Dave Bull

CHRISTMAS without Christ makes no sense – that is the message from the churches of Marlow as church leaders celebrate the recent upturn in congregations during the festive season.

Churches Together in Marlow are looking forward to a busy period as carol concerts, midnight mass and Holy Communion services are pulling in the crowds like never before.

And with national Christmas attendances on the rise, Rev’d Dave Bull of All Saints Church believes people are turning to the church to find meaning amid the festive rush.

He said: “There was a generation where church services declined, but I think we are seeing a change, especially in young people and in ways of seeing the world.

“We see that especially at Christmas, where people are assaulted with advertising and have been eating mince pies since October, yet they are still hungry for meaning and more than just this consumer culture.

Christians believe that church and the birth of Christ can answer some of those big questions and provide that meaning.

“People seem more interested in spirituality than they were 10 years ago, and Christmas gives us a time to reflect on what life is all about. Church is a great place to go to reflect on that.”

The latest figures from The Church of England show Christmas attendances to be up by 14.5 per cent.

And while average weekly congregations fell by 0.3 per cent, the decline represents a smaller decrease than in previous years.

Rev’d Bull, who arrived in Marlow in February 2012, welcomed 1500 people in 24 hours through the doors at All Saints last Christmas.

The hectic festive calendar sees three Christmas eve services for children by popular demand, as well as a late night mass at 11.30pm as well as a host of carol concerts.

And the Team Rector, who lives at the Causeway vicarage with his wife and three young children, believes Marlow residents have a particularly spirituality drawing them to church.

“Marlow has a very strong community and a positive sense of identity, as well as huge generosity. There’s also a real warmth between generations.

“It’s very pleasing to see the extent of people’s spiritual curiosity and if I had a Christmas message to the town it would be to explore that curiosity.

“Everyone is welcome to any one of the churches in Marlow to see for themselves if it it can offer them something to answer some of the big questions they may have.”

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