Reflections on the 2018 Sefton Council Christmas Carol Service
The third Sefton carol service was held on 11th December in Bootle Town Hall. This was a joint initiative between the Christian Workplace Groups at Sefton Council, the Health & Safety Executive and the Office for Nuclear Regulation. The carol service gives an opportunity to bring local organisations together to celebrate Christmas and be reminded of the central point of the Christmas story – the birth of Jesus.
Amongst the 70+ who attended were the Mayor of Sefton, Councillor Dave Robinson, Sefton Chief Executive, Margaret Carney, and Chief Executive of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, Adrienne Kelbie. We issued invitations to other local organisations and welcomed staff from Hugh Baird College and Sefton Women’s and Children’s Aid.
We advertised far and wide – intranet, yammer, posters at the Council’s depot where staff do not have access to the intranet and had 1,000 invitation cards printed, double last year’s quantity. Our Council internal postman distributed more than half of these to different Council offices and we handed out more personal invitations than before. We encouraged staff to invite family & friends.
We sang a mix of carols and enjoyed seasonal readings and poems. We involved people who are not part of the Christian Workplace Group, and readings were given by one of the managers and a Council Cabinet Member.
The Archdeacon of Liverpool, Mike McGurk, presented a clear Gospel message about how the Christmas cracker reminds us of Jesus – the bang is God getting people’s attention, the hat is a crown, the toy is a gift and the joke conveys a sense of joy!
At the last minute we were asked to accommodate Natural Alternatives (adults with additional needs and who work alongside a Council department) – this group wished to sell Christmas candle decorations to support the Mayor’s charity.
We had a lot of positive feedback. The service was held in a smaller room than we had previously used and this gave a more intimate feel. There was a lovely atmosphere and the mulled wine, mince pies and Stollen were much appreciated afterwards!
It was a wonderful opportunity to introduce the two Chief Executives to each other, and to welcome the Mayor of Sefton. We are thrilled at the support we have from the top of our organisations and don’t take it for granted.
Even though it was short notice, it was a privilege to be able to welcome the Natural Alternatives group and make the service a more corporate event.
Our Communications team were very supportive in advertising the carol service. They also produced a report with pictures the next day and posted it on the news page of the intranet.
We are truly thankful for God’s favour and provision in so many ways.
God has given us people with the right talents to put in such a service – musicians, technical support, refreshments and good links with the Council’s Communications team.
Many people genuinely seemed to appreciate being invited, even if they didn’t attend.
We had a good turnout at the carol service and there is scope to build on this in future years.
Our Christian workplace group reviewed the event a couple of days later. All thought it had gone well and reported that their colleagues who had attended were very positive. Someone offered the observation that in asking people to the carol service, we were inviting people to come onto ‘our’ territory.
As we began to think ahead to Easter, we considered ways in which we might take the message to where our colleagues are. In addition to our regular offering of small chocolate eggs at the entrance to our offices, we could offer hot cross buns or maybe even decorate the office reception with an unfolding scene of Easter events during Holy Week.
We trust many will have sensed something of God's love through our carol service, not least those who were invited but didn't come!
7th January 2019