Meet the churches learning to do Christmas a little differently this year

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson

With only a few sleeps away from the big day, and the pandemic once again causing concern, how are churches celebrating Christmas?

The last two years have seen a huge growth in streaming services - with churches reaching congregations without them ever setting foot in the building.

With some carol concerts cancelled and others facing restrictions, many are once again taking a more creative approach.

Brighton's Emmanuel Church, which usually sees thousands attend its carol services, has this year produced a movie, Son of Man, instead. So far almost 7,000 have watched it.

Even the lighting of advent candles is now broadcast live at Canterbury Cathedral - a hybrid approach allowing it to maintain traditions as well as now reach around the world.

St Peter's Church in Brighton has also taken a hybrid approach. Its leader, Rev Archie Coates, was recently nominated to take over the largest church in the Church of England - Holy Trinity Brompton - the birthplace of the Alpha Course. He'll take up the post next summer.

But St Peter's Church has not only tripled its attendance by streaming its carols, but also expanded its outreach - sending almost 1,500 stockings full of gifts to the homeless.

Like most churches, All Saints Church in Maidstone will hold a service on Christmas Day, as well as a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but with restricted capacities. However, its cancelled others.

'I think the Christmas message from the Angel to Mary, to the Shepherds and the Wise Men, with that great shining light of great joy with good news - that Jesus is at the heart of Christmas, is all about not being afraid,' its Very Rev John Richardson says.

'So let's look to the new year in hope that things will get better, and let's not be afraid.'

Though the method my change, the hope of Christmas remains very much the same.