30 November 2023

Five Major UK Denominations join together for an ecumenical celebration of the Birth of Christ, in a Christmas Carol Service led by Deaf Christians in British Sign Language

In an unprecedented collaboration, five of the United Kingdom's major Christian denominations, The Church of England, The Church of Scotland, The Church in Wales, The Methodist Church of Great Britain, and The Baptist Union of Great Britain (Baptists Together), are set to broadcast a special Christmas Carol Service on Sunday 10 December 2023. This ground-breaking event will be hosted on their respective Facebook Pages and YouTube Channels, uniting thousands of viewers for a unique Christmas celebration.

Titled "The Christian BSL Carol Service," this remarkable service is scheduled to be held at 9.00 AM. on 10 December 2023, which is the second Sunday of Advent.

With its theme of "The Magi", the service will offer a powerful reminder of the journey of discovery, faith, and the profound wonders that await us all in Christ.

The service will be led entirely in British Sign Language (BSL) by Deaf Christians and aims to bridge linguistic and cultural barriers, demonstrating the universal appeal of the Christmas story. For those who are not proficient in BSL, the service includes captions and spoken English translation, ensuring that everyone can fully participate in this festive celebration.

The distinguished team of Deaf Christians leading the service are: Helen Cottingham, Tony Hawkins, Fatimo O Olubakin, Mary-Jayne Russell de Clifford, Veronica Stewart-Holmes, and Janice Silo. With their faith and deep connection to the Deaf community they convey the message of Christmas in a way that resonates with people everywhere.

Tom Pearson, the spokesperson for ChristianBSL.com, the organisation partnering with the denominations for this service, highlighted the significance of this event. “Having filmed the service it became clear that this was a perfect opportunity for ecumenical unity, celebrating Christmas together. I am delighted that five of the UK’s major Christian denominations have agreed to platform the Christian BSL Carol Service at the same time on the same day.” Pearson continues, "The story of Christmas is universal, transcending languages and borders. In our service the message of Christmas comes to life through British Sign Language, bringing hope and joy to all."

Ben Hollebon, Director of Digital Engagement for the Methodist Church, spoke about the importance of championing often marginalised communities, particularly in church. "It's such a privilege for us as the Methodist Church to join in supporting this wonderful initiative, and even more brilliant that other denominations across the UK are doing the same. It's truly an ecumenical celebration of what the Deaf community can bring to the Church and how we should be embracing every person as a member of God's family.  We're hugely grateful to Christian BSL for pioneering this service and organising this collaborative live-streaming experience."

The Christian BSL Carol Service will feature brand new audio recordings of beloved Christmas carols, brought to life by the musical talents of David Luke, John Wilson, and Chris Orton-Gibb.

This Christmas, viewers from across the UK and beyond are invited to join The Christian BSL Carol Service, either through the live broadcast or on-demand, and become an integral part of this unique congregation. Just as the star guided the Magi, may this service guide the hearts of all who participate toward the wonder and significance of Christ's birth.

Notes

For further information about The Christian BSL Carol Service, please contact Tom Pearson.

The Methodist Church is supporting this initiative as part of its wider Out of the Ordinary Advent and Christmas campaign.

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