Twenty Twelve
Recording the fourth annual
Christmas Tree Festival
at Saint Faith's Church, Crosby

Between Sunday, December 2nd and Saturday, December 8th, 2012,
we staged our fourth annual St Faith's Christmas Tree Festival. 
It featured 43 trees, each sponsored and decorated by a church, organisation or individual,
 collecting money from visitors for the charity of their choice.
The organising group, led as in previous years by churchwarden Margaret Houghton,
had of course been making plans for many weeks and months.
These pages record the progress from the day when the church was prepared
for the arrival of the trees, through to the final clear-up.

The first sequence shows the placing of the boards across the pews on Sunday, November 25th,
the arrival of the shrouded trees, and their unwrapping and positioning around the church in the next two days.

Click on any of the photos below for a bigger version


On Thursday, folk were busy creating the Advent wreath display for use on the four Sundays of Advent.
The St Faith's Jam Factory operatives carted in, priced up and laid out the massed ranks of preserves
Tree decorating starts tomorrow, but one early bird was already lighting up the sanctuary...


Saturday saw the beginning of December and the end of the preparations.
Throughout the day, sponsors adorned their trees, while the sales and food stalls were made ready for tomorrow.
Sunday will see the Advent Toy Service and the opening of the Christmas Tree Festival, and the start of what we hope will be
another happy and successful week of welcoming visitors and raising money for 43 charities.


Advent Sunday was busy!

The trees were all lit up as the dramatic backcloth to the 11.00 am Sung Eucharist, Parade and Toy Service.

Highlights, pictured below, were the participation of the young people of our uniformed organisations,
reading lessons and prayers, and the welcoming of Kirsty for her first Holy Communion.
Members of the congregation, young and old, brought up the toys they had
 bought to be distributed amongst the poor and needy children of our
Borough of Sefton.

Communion was at the High Altar, as the nave altar platform was full of Christmas Trees -
and this made possible a view from the organ loft of congregation and choir.
Finally, the first candle on the Advent Wreath was lit.

When the service was over, and after a short pause for refreshment - and to draw breath,
the 2012 Christmas Tree Festival was declared open and the first of the week's seven open sessions began.
Darkness had fallen by the time this first session was closing, showing the sparkling trees off to advantage.
The day ended with the traditional service of anthems, carols, prayers and readings for Advent,
attended by members of our local ecumenical group, Churches Together in Waterloo.


A few images of what went on during the first three weekdays of Tree Week.
Schoolchildren came in in well-behaved crocodiles and entertained us,
before being let loose to wander round the trees.
The trees shone and sparkled by sunlight and as darkness fell...
and at the end of every session, because batteries don't last for ever,
helpers grovelled beneath each tree to find the little control boxes and switch them off.



On Wednesday we were open by day and in the evening.
A steady flow of visitors ate their way through the refreshments on offer on both occasions,
but in the evening there was a full house for the visit of a military band,
under the auspices of St Faith's Services Support Group, which meets monthly
to pray for and hear about our armed forces on active service, especially those serving in Afghanistan.
Let by Padre George Perera, we enjoyed a session of carol singing, readings and prayers
The stirring music was provided by the Lancashire Artillery Volunteers Band, conducted by WO1 I.L.Mitchell


Thursday and Friday saw us again visited by classes from local schools -
especially Waterloo Primary School! They sang to us - and one group
was even accompanied by a celtic harp. At the back of church, it was business as usual
 on the craft stalls, and there was plenty of soup consumed by friends and visitors alike


The final hours and days saw no reduction in the level of activity.
The prayer tree, where visitors were invited to write and hang up their personal prayers,
was all but overwhelmed by heartfelt written petitions.
On Saturday morning the young musicians of the Liverpool Saturday Music School Strings
gave a splendid concert to round off the week's musical offerings.

The catering ladies looked understandably relieved when the final refreshments
were served just before closing, and the shelves were swiftly stripped of unsold goods
- although out of about 800 jars made by the ladies of St Faith's Jam Factory,
a mere six were left at the end of the week!

The next day sponsors came and stripped their trees of their decorations,
and the bare trees - which had lasted the course very well - were carted off.
All that remained was the great clean-up...

Just under a year to the 2013 Christmas Tree Festival...!

Photos : Chris Price

Words in retrospect

Margaret Houghton looks back...

Resilient, energetic, enthusiastic, good humoured, talented and good team members.  Just some of the qualities shown by all those who volunteered to take part in the 2012 Tree Festival.  Having spent six months in pursuit of a new priest, some of us were failing fast, but were spurred on by the tremendous response received by so many volunteers for the running of the stalls, stewarding, printing, stirring the soup cauldron each day to serve a delicious choice of menus for lunches. 

From despair at realising all the cakes had been sold, to relief when an abundance of freshly-baked cakes arrived each morning, to batteries constantly renewed to keep each tree brightly lit, to washers-up who kept a supply of clean china going throughout the day and so many other tasks all performed without question or complaint.  No wonder this year was such a success. 

How can one describe the value of such a team?  From mid-morning to evening the helpers kept on working and the atmosphere grew.  Small children visited with their teachers and charmed us with impromptu singing, or almost; groups of young mums gathered for coffee when little ones enjoyed colouring pictures to be hung on the stands made available for them, ladies met for lunch and a chat and fond grandparents came to listen to the various school choirs, much enjoyed by all.  To our delight a teacher arrived with her Celtic harp and accompanied the children as they sang carols, certainly a first for St. Faith’s, but maybe we will see more of the harpist in the future.

 The Festival was brought to a close with another excellent recital given by the Liverpool Saturday Morning Youth Orchestra and all was then suddenly quiet and still; but how the lights continued to twinkle, difficult to darken such a wonderful sight.

One of the greatest experiences the writer had this year was the warmth which filled the building. No, not the over burdened heating, but from the way visitors embraced the atmosphere and appreciated the welcome received and the best comment  “this is a real church”.  Top that!

The final page: extracts from the Visitors' Book and the Prayer Tree