ADVENT Sunday’s BBC TV Songs of Praise programme came from Christ Church, the Mersey Synod’s URC church in the Wirral village of Port Sunlight.
The Mersey Synod Newsletter’s lead story by Chris Maple, the church Secretary, lets us into the secret of the effort needed to produce the 35 minutes of broadcast material.
He wrote: “It all started with a phone call when a BBC programme producer phoned to say they were thinking of doing the Advent Sunday broadcast of ‘Songs of Praise’ from our church.
“This was the first of umpteen phone calls, many meetings and 386 emails to bring the project to fruition.
“Apart from the producer herself many other BBC people descended on us to consider the suitability of our building – lighting experts, sound engineers and camera men.
“Finally came the week of the recordings.
“The BBC had full use of the church from 4 pm on Sunday October 4 until noon!
“The BBC were concerned that there would not be enough demand for tickets.
“In the end they received over 900 applications for the 550 tickets available!”
Churchgoers still value the preacher
According to researchers at Durham University, most of the 3.6 million regular churchgoers in Britain, still feel a sense of expectation for the Sunday sermon, although we live in an age where ‘sermonising’ is seen as the eighth deadly sin.
Evangelical Christians looked forward most to sermons, Roman Catholics were most keen on sermons that educated rather than challenged, Baptists wanted sermons to convert them, Anglicans wanted to be entertained and member of the new independent evangelical churches wanted to be challenged and encouraged.
Baptists and RCs were also enthusiastic about the Bible being mentioned in sermons than were Anglicans and Methodists.
The best sermons were judged to be inspirational invocations on how to live a better life in the grace of God; the worst soporific ramblings that remind the congregation merely of how uncomfortable the pews were!
A Chief Constable who regularly sees her bishops and archbishop
Barbara Wilding, the Chief Constable of South Wales, regularly sees her bishops and archbishop.
“We work very closely together,” she told the Church Times.
But, if she were to be locked in a church with the person of her choice, she chose Mary Magdalene, “to see where we are now, and to ask her if our society is as it was meant to be”.