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Derby: St Thomas’, Bramp­ton, had a bumper Christ­mas this year re­port­ing a 27 per cent in­crease in at­ten­dance over its six main Christ­mas ser­vices. Some 1,348 peo­ple at­tended church over the Christ­mas pe­riod, up from 1,064 vis­its last year and other lo­cal churches have also re­ported growth in con­gre­ga­tions over the Christ­mas pe­riod. St Thomas’ Carol ser­vice on 23 De­cem­ber was the most pop­u­lar ser­vice with well over 500 peo­ple coming to the church to en­joy tra­di­tional carols, the church’s cel­e­bra­tion choir and the Holy­moor­side Brass Band. The Rec­tor of St Thomas’, the Rev Matthew Barnes, said: “It was won­der­ful to see so many from our com­mu­nity come to church this year; it’s clear peo­ple in Bramp­ton ap­pre­ci­ate tra­di­tional Chris­tian val­ues at Christ­mas!”

Liver­pool: Liver­pool Cathe­dral is of­fer­ing three op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore faith and learn about the Bi­ble this month and run­ning un­til March, with The Al­pha Course, Break­fast with the Bi­ble and Sup­per with the Scrip­tures and the Cathe­dral’s School of The­ol­ogy’s drop-in course ‘The Holy Spirit and the Church’. Dean Pete Wilcox said: “Jan­uary is the per­fect time to try new things, and each course of­fers some­thing dif­fer­ent. If you do not con­sider your­self a Chris­tian but want to find out more about Chris­tian­ity, or if you have been away from Church for a long time then Al­pha is for you. If you pre­fer to un­pick Bi­ble sto­ries in de­tail, Break­fast with the Bi­ble and Sup­per with the Scrip­tures is a good choice. Those in­ter­ested in the links be­tween Church his­tory and cur­rent prac­tice will find the ‘Holy Spirit and the Church’ ex­tremely stim­u­lat­ing. We are passionate about mak­ing the­o­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion and faith ex­plo­ration open to all so the cour­ses are as flex­i­ble as pos­si­ble and we hope there is some­thing for ev­ery­body. The cour­ses are ei­ther free or a min­i­mal cost, there are no as­sess­ments, and there is no pres­sure to com­mit to them for a long time – just come to the ses­sions that you want.” For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.liv­er­pool­cathe­dral.org.uk.

Rochester: At a ser­vice to cel­e­brate 75 years of wor­ship at the church, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, ded­i­cated a new stained glass win­dow at St Mary’s Church, Green Street Green. But this new win­dow is unique as it has been de­signed and made by mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion: there is no other con­tem­po­rary ex­am­ple in this coun­try of a stained glass win­dow be­ing made for a church by its mem­bers rather than by a pro­fes­sional artist. The ini­tial idea started in late 2008, when, af­ter a small group vis­ited Leonie Seliger, head of the stained glass stu­dio at Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral, they were in­spired to have a go them­selves and in­vested in train­ing five mem­bers of the St Mary’s con­gre­ga­tion in the art of stained glass mak­ing. The theme was af­firmed by a dream ex­pe­ri­enced by one mem­ber which dis­played strong con­nec­tions to the vi­sion de­scribed in Ezekiel 47 – that of the life-giv­ing river flow­ing from the tem­ple. Fi­nally a de­sign was cre­ated by Ma­rina Price, a church mem­ber with artis­tic gifts. The £20,000 cost of the win­dow was raised by the con­gre­ga­tion and the work fi­nally be­gan in Septem­ber 2011.

South­well & Not­ting­ham: Former Not­ting­ham City Coun­cil chief, Jane Todd, is to head up a brand new ven­ture by the Church of Eng­land and the Church Ur­ban Fund, aim­ing to tackle poverty in com­mu­ni­ties across Not­ting­hamshire. The ven­ture with the Dio­cese of South­well & Not­ting­ham and CUF will be called ‘Trans­form­ing Notts To­gether’ and will en­able fi­nan­cial and prac­ti­cal sup­port to be chan­nelled into lo­cal schemes such as home­less cen­tres, debt coun­selling and food banks. Jane Todd said: “I’m very ex­cited about the po­ten­tial this ven­ture has to trans­form peo­ple’s lives across Not­ting­hamshire and make a real dif­fer­ence to the hard­ships peo­ple are fac­ing in the cur­rent eco­nomic cri­sis. We hope the ven­ture will en­able projects to be es­tab­lished and give groups and es­pe­cially churches the con­fi­dence to step out to help tackle the des­per­ate needs in some of our com­mu­ni­ties.”

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