Churches report surge of interest over Christmas

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CHURCHES across the Sheffield region are reporting a surge in interest over Christmas.

While numbers in congregations have been generally dropping slightly over the year, in line with other Anglican dioceses, more than 20 of the 30 local churches that took part in a diocese study reported increases at the end of last year, according to figures released this week.

Although last year’s figures were low due to snow, there are rises when compared to the last three or four years.

St. Mary’s Church in Handsworth saw the annual Christmas Eve crib service attended by 139 people – double last year’s attendance.

Christ Church, Hillsborough and Wadsley Bridge reported 182 people at their Carols by Candlelight service compared to 56 in 2007, with a rises in attendance continuing into January.

So many people attended St. Mary’s in Walkley that they ran out of Christingles at their Christmas Eve service.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “These stories are only the tip of the iceberg as many more churches saw increases year upon year.

“It is also encouraging to hear the number of churches who took the carols out to the community by singing in local pubs and around the parish.

“After introducing carol singing in the local pub last year, St Gabriel’s in Greystones had to return for two sessions this year, both of which saw their local bursting at the seams.

“The congregation of St. Mary’s Church in Bramall Lane were touched when out carol-singing.

A local teenager directed them to sing outside the house of a lady who had been recently widowed, who listened from her doorway with a smile.”