“It turns out, 10,000 lights don’t look like a lot once you get them into the trees,” Father David Adamson-Hill, a vicar who is relatively new to Croydon, says somewhat self-deprecatorily.
It was, after all, Adamson-Hill who sourced the lights and, together with a colleague from Croydon Minster, Father John Ackland, was spotted last week as “two vicars up a tree”, as they laced the lights across Minster Green ahead of what promises for them to be a busy few weeks, even by the standards of the Church of England at Christmas time.
Working across three local churches – the Minster, St Andrew’s on Southbridge Road and St George’s Waddon – on top of all the usual and expected services for their regular congregations (St Andrew’s has its carol concert tonight), Adamson-Hill and his fellow priests are also planning a community Christmas lunch for 150 people and a grand carol concert on Minster Green next Sunday, December 19, promising “the Salvation Army Band and all the trimmings!”
Everything is subject, of course, to whether the nation is under “Plan B” covid protections at that point, or what “Plan C” might require, but there is more than a sense of wanting to reach out as widely as possible to provide some kind of event that can, within the latest rules, offer some hope and cheer.
“We wanted to create a beautiful event where everyone is welcome to come along,” Adamson-Hill told Inside Croydon.
“Croydon Minster, St George’s, St Andrew’s and the Salvation Army are determined to bring a joy-filled occasion that takes us to the very heart of the season of peace and goodwill.”
There will be a barbeque with “gorgeous sausages”, mulled wine and mulled apple juice, and they are even planning for marshmallows toasting on a log fire. “The cinnamon smell of hot wine and logs burning brightly will set the scene,” Adamson-Hill says, having himself done the hard work to set the scene with those 10,000 twinkling lights around Minster Green.
“I don’t think anything has looked more ridiculous in some time than two priests in their dog collars climbing up trees and hurling fairy lights around,” Adamson-Hill said.
The food has been deliberately sourced and prepared by local butchers and bakers “in an effort to support local business as they recover from the pandemic”, the priest says.
“In a world that can feel very dark at times, we will rejoice and be together in the joy of Christmas just one week away.
“We hope that it will be a great occasion for families to come together and have a good sing-song after such a difficult Christmas last year, when so many events like this were cancelled,” Adamson-Hill says.
You sense it is said with a prayer that all the Minster’s plans can be accomplished in the safest possible way. Fingers crossed…
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