If you've ever taken to wandering the surrounding areas of Chesterton House HQ, you're likely to have seen All Saints with Holy Trinity - Loughborough's Historic Parish Church. Throughout the year All Saints Church stands as a place of worship and community spirit, while playing its part in the Inclusive Church network by actively tackling discrimination on any level. At this time of year, however, something else stands within the Church - 120 Christmas trees, to be precise, for the All Saints Christmas Tree Festival.
These trees are decorated and displayed from 28th November - 2nd December by the many community groups, organisations and businesses that make up Loughborough, so we decided to get involved.
When we got our letter through the post inviting us to be a part of the annual Christmas Tree Festival, we were excited because it gave us a chance to show our creative side (the side that doesn't involve numbers, charts, spreadsheets etc.).
Immediately we assembled a team of elves to come up with a Chesterton themed Christmas tree, and they certainly did not disappoint:
Armed with tinsel, lights, baubles, chocolate coins, books and even a little light-up financial house (which we can assure you was in perfect order), Louis and Ross (pictured above) set to work creating their masterpiece. Special mention must also go to Carol, who unfortunately could not be there on the day. The operation was masterminded by Louis - a shrewd and knowledgeable tree designer with a keen eye for detail - however everyone played their part, and within an hour the tree was completed. We even overheard a passerby say the tree looked "rather snazzy", so I suppose we'll take that as a compliment!
The Christmas Tree Festival was coordinated by Revd. Wendy Dalrymple, who in May 2015 became the 39th Rector of All Saints with Holy Trinity Loughborough Parish Church. We managed to have a word with her about her views on the festival, as well as the Church and its community:
"This is the 8th year that the Christmas Tree Festival has run, and my 4th year coordinating it. Each year we're thrilled to see the event grow, and we can say that this year is the biggest year yet. We are hugely grateful to all of the contributors and to the team of volunteers who plan, and run, this splendid community event, showcasing the creativity and vibrancy of our town. We like to think that each tree tells a story!"
"Your generosity in visiting the festival helps to raise the much needed funds to maintain the presence of this beautiful, historic Church in the life of our community, so thank you for supporting this event and celebrating with us!"
The trees are available to view from today until Sunday 2nd December, but there is also opportunities to vote in our Christmas Card Competition, shop around at the Christmas craft fair or enter the tombola and raffle.
Another feature this year is the large tree at the far end of the church, on which people can leave names or situations they wish to remember or pray for. This will remain in the Church throughout Advent and Christmas, providing a focus for the daily prayer offered by the Christian community that gathers to pray in this sacred space.
This Church is one of the major historic churches in Leicestershire, and some of its features (such as the beautiful stained glass windows) date back to the 14th century. We think its history goes back further than this, and the Church almost certainly sits on both Norman and Saxon predecessors. This means that the All Saints Church has seen nearly everything Loughborough has offered - it's growth, decline, agriculture and industrialisation - for almost a thousand years. It's also become the home of a fantastic community, which has grown as a cause of its existence.
Throughout the next year the Church will be hosting musical events such as Lunchtime concerts throughout January and February, regular choir and orchestra sessions, and even "Fete on the Green", which will include live music, entertainment, church tower tours and much more!
Over the Christmas Tree Festival there are still the following events to enjoy while looking at the trees:
Tonight 7:30pm: Loughborough University/Loughborough Male Voice Choir
Sunday 2nd December 4pm: Community Sing Along
Sunday 2nd December 6pm: Closing Ceremony
Furthermore the Church is hosting many seasonal Advent and Christmas celebrations, which are listed to the right.
To find out more about what All Saints with Holy Trinity does you can visit their website, follow them on Twitter on @ASwHTchurch or like their Facebook page at @allsaintsloughborough.
If you'd like to see more about the event, watch our video of the festival on our blog here.
Once again a huge thank you to Louis, Ross and Carol for their fantastic Christmas Tree design, and we urge anyone who has not been to see all the trees to go and have a look. Our thanks also to Revd. Wendy Dalrymple and all the volunteers for hosting the Christmas Tree Festival, from our point of view it has been a huge success!