WorldWide Religious News

Europe - UK/Ireland - Christianity - General

Come all ye faithful, and join the queue
by Jonathan Petre ("Telegraph," December 7, 2006)

London, England - Cathedrals are becoming so popular with worshippers that they are having to lay on extra carol services this Christmas to cope with demand.

St Paul's in London and Canterbury Cathedral are among many providing additional services.

In contrast to church-going in general, cathedrals have seen their congregations swell significantly since the Millennium, particularly at Christmas and Easter.

Official statistics suggest the number of worshippers attending events in cathedrals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – from carol and crib services to midnight masses – is up by more than a quarter since 2000. This year, more than 120,000 are expected over the two-day period, up from 94,000 six years ago.

Canon Lucy Winkett, at St Paul's, said: "We were overwhelmed on Christmas Eve last year and must have turned away a crowd of at least 800 who couldn't get in."

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Rev Colin Slee, said his cathedral was holding 35 special services over Christmas, a record number.

"People are searching for what it is to be English," he said. "My hunch is that many have reached the point when they realise how dangerous rampant secularism really is, and they want to preserve their Christian heritage."