NINETY parishes over Britain are laying plans to conduct
a "Christmas and You" week in December, based on mission experiments started in Leeds. They range from Cathedral parishes to village hamlets, dockside parishioners to Cotswold farmers, and cover all but two dioceses in England, Scotland and Wales.
In the whole of a Yorkshire mining valley, Catholics. Anglicans and Non-Conformists will conduct the scheme together, sending laymen as missioners from door to door inviting others to come to the churches.
They %sill use posters and greeting cards to spread their invitations. In the Catholic church the liturgy will use mime instead of preaching to express the meaning of Christmas.
More than 100 parishes up and down the country are planning to hold "Faster And You" weeks next year. Among them are 10 in the East End of London, who are planning a massive campaign but keeping it a secret for the time being.
The "And You" idea was started four years ago by Fr. Michael Buckley, a curate at St. Patrick's, 'Leeds, to join people actively in the religious celebrations of special feast days.
Gradually, it snowballed. Last Easter 41) parishes in Britain, plus others as far as the West Indies. America and New Zealand. picked up the idea, each one adding its own touches.
During a Christmas week children act out the story of the Annunciation before a packed church: at Easter twelve eat a meal in the sanctuary.
In a week illustrating the Sacraments all the babies born during the year are brought into church while the latest arrival is baptised. During a "Feed the Hungry Week" poor people are given dinner before the whole congregation.
MIJRGY Willi MIME
Fr. Buckley says: "Every parish which has operated a campaign has reported success". He attributes the success to two things: Getting laymen involved in giving out invitations and "the exciting use of the new liturgy with mime".
Another big factor, he believes,
is the flexibility of the scheme, With help from the Grail and two full-time clerical workers, St. Patrick's parish sends out posters and printed liturgical services to anyone who wants to use the scheme.
But there is plenty of room for adaptation to make it work for the people of any given area. Some schools and colleges use the services in place of standard morning
Now the Leeds team is busy preparing "And You" weeks to dramatise the meaning of Christian marriage, the Bible, the life of Christ and the new Constitution on the Church.
Next Sunday afternoon, Fr. Buckley will submit these new plans to his lay helpers. People from all over the North of England will attend the meeting.