The Rector of Douglas Union with Frankfield, the Ven. Adrian Wilkinson, writes:
Not to be deterred by the very necessary health restrictions which forbid congregational singing in church buildings, the parishioners of Douglas Union with Frankfield moved outside for their Carol Service this year.
Working in conjunction with the staff of St Luke’s National School, the service was held in the playground between the school and the parish hall on Sunday, 19th December at 4pm. About 250 people, some bringing deck chairs and rugs for their knees, gathered to sing familiar carols while wearing masks in a safe and socially distanced setting.
On arrival they were greeted by Christmas carols played by the St Nicholas Brass Band, who based themselves in the school general purpose hall where the doors were wide open into the playground. The parish choir, under their director Veronica Tadman, led the congregational singing. The choir also performed the Swedish carol ‘Jul, Jul stralande jul,’ which was sung in memory of a much loved former choir member Barbro McCutcheon, who was originally from Sweden and died earlier this year. The 6th class pupils from St Luke’s School, under their teacher Elaine Guinane, were also involved and they performed the ‘Carol of the Bells’ on handbells and sang ‘Ring Bells of Bethlehem’. St Nicholas Brass Band played one carol, Silent Night and at the end of the service entertained those who stayed for some seasonal Christmas music as dusk descended. A retiring collection of over €1,000 was taken for a number of charities.
The Archdeacon Wilkinson commented afterwards:
It was wonderful to see so many parishioners and others gathered together for a service in one place. We are used to packed churches and large indoor services at Christmas in this parish, but Covid has put a temporary halt to all that. This outdoor service allowed people from our four different churches, as well as our ecumenical friends, to meet up and sing and pray together. It was also good to see three generations of some families sit together. While we hope to be indoors for parish and school carol services next year, the service this year is one to remember.