More than 70 pubs, clubs, community centres and care homes in Leicestershire and Rutland joined a live BBC radio broadcast to Sing Christmas, karaoke-style, on Monday 21 December 2015.
Carol singers in all the different venues joined the live BBC Radio Leicester broadcast by tuning in and singing along. Churches helped their local venues take part and participants got a mention on air by texting BBC Radio Leicester during the broadcast.
Jeff Bonser, one of the team behind Leicester’s Sing Christmas (www.singchristmas.org.uk), and HOPE’s executive director Roy Crowne are hoping that in 2016, churches across the UK will follow Leicester’s lead inviting their local radio station to create a Sing Christmas community broadcast to enable many more people to join in.
Roy Crowne says, ‘It’s a great community event – we’d love to see more like this in 2016. But, even without the radio link, beer and carols events have already been successful in taking the real message of Christmas to people who don’t normally come to church. Sports stadiums have invited churches to stage community Sing Christmas carol events too. It’s fantastic when churches, schools and sports clubs can bring communities together to celebrate Christmas.’
Bear Grylls on Christmas
Alongside the radio events in 2015, sports clubs and churches used a specially-produced Sing Christmas carols programme published by Tearfund, HOPE and Sports Chaplaincy UK, and introduced by TV adventurer Bear Grylls - available from www.singchristmas.org.
Bear Grylls said: ‘For so many of us, Christmas is a magical time of year. A time of peace, of joy, of families and friendship. For Christians though this season though means so much more. The time when we remember the birth of Jesus, when God made his dwelling amongst us.
‘It’s my faith in Jesus that has so often brought light to a dark path, joy to a cold mountain, strength to a failing body. He has not only been a pointer of the way, but also a backbone, a companion, a friend.
‘This year Christmas carol events are taking place around the country in churches, stadiums, pubs and even over the airwaves! Wherever you join, may you know his light, his joy, his strength, his friendship.’
Top football clubs sing Christmas
More than 1000 people took part in AFC Bournemouth’s Sing Christmas event at the Cherries’ ground. At Swansea City players took part in their stadium event reading the Christmas story from the Bible. Sing Christmas at Bolton Wanderers was packed to capacity as local school choirs led the singing. Events have also been held by Bradford Bulls, Ulster Rugby, Newport County, Crew Alexandra, Crawley Town and in hundreds of local churches with thousands of Silent Night programmes being given away to carol singers.
Jeff Bonser used the Sing Christmas programme in Market Harborough, where Churches Together partnered with Harborough District Council for the Christmas Lights Switch-On event in the Town Square. The Sing Christmas programmes were given out to everyone there, and they all sang carols between performances from local school choirs and a school soul band.
Roy Crowne, HOPE’s executive director said, ‘Sing Christmas built on the success of Silent Night Carols in 2014. HOPE is committed to helping churches to serve their communities, bringing people together to celebrate at Christmas, Easter, with summer festivals and Harvest – key calendar moments when Christians, working together, are putting their faith into words and action in villages, towns and cities.’