Churches are preparing to welcome visitors back through their doors this Christmas after two years of disruption due to the pandemic.
Nine in ten (89%) of churches said the chance to open their doors to the local community after years of disruption caused by local lockdowns was the thing that excited them most this Christmas, according to research* by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical.
More than two thirds (68%) said the opportunity to pray and worship this Christmas was what they most looked forward to.
The opportunity to host Christmas events this year has been met with widespread enthusiasm from the country’s churches. Across the board the survey found a seven per cent increase in physical events compared to last year, including more nativity services (6%), more community performances (4%) and choir performances (4%). The research also found churches plan to host fewer online services this year, dropping 17% since last Christmas.
One church opening its doors to visitors this year is Otley Parish Church in West Yorkshire which is hosting its first Christmas Tree festival in three years.
The event takes place over three days with the church being filled with 44 trees all decorated by local charities that visitors are invited to make donations to. Performances from local primary school choirs and other groups including the Wharfedale Male Voice Choir will also be taking place.
In Hampshire the Horndean Band, a military style wind band and drum corps, will be performing traditional songs at St Georges Church in Waterlooville on Saturday 17 December. Other churches getting into the festive spirit are Great Hale Church in Sleaford, Lincolnshire hosted a Polar Express carriage in the church and Saint Barnabas Church, Hereford which is serving Christmas meals to people in need on Thursday 22 December.
The return to pre-pandemic Christmas events is an exciting time for everyone involved with their church, but with special events and services, extra visitors and festive decorations in your church, it can mean a little extra planning in order to keep everyone safe.
Ecclesiastical has produced guidance to help churches prepare for extra numbers this year, including guidance around preventing slips and trips, decorating the church safely and fire risks.
Helen Richards, church operations director at Ecclesiastical, said:
We know that the uncertainty of the last two years meant planning for Christmas events was incredibly difficult for churches.z
Not only did it affect the church goers and local community, disappointed to be able to celebrate such an important time of the year, but churches missed out on vital revenue through donations from visitors to the events that bring so much joy to people.
It’s no surprise that churches are throwing open their doors now pandemic restrictions have been lifted and are looking forward to welcoming visitors back. With extra numbers attending events, including people who potentially who don’t attend church regularly, there are some extra steps we’d encourage churches to take some extra precautionary steps to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable Christmas.
Ecclesiastical’s risk guidance for churches at Christmas can be found at https://www.ecclesiastical.com/risk-management/churches-at-christmas/.