A choir service at St Columba’s Cassilis saw the rural church “filled to the brim” by people celebrating the local Harvest Festival. Mudgee’s Cudgegong Choir performed religious-type Mozarts, accompanied by an “earthy” liturgy, written specifically for the occasion. The service was followed by afternoon tea at Cassilis Bowling Club, and parishioners raved about the success of the event.

The Harvest Festival choir service is part of St Columba’s annual program as a “Festival Church”. The core idea of a Festival Church is to remove the requirement for regular services and to use the building in a way that allows the whole community to come together to celebrate church festivals. It is a model for doing rural ministry differently, and can give opportunities to strengthen the church’s connection to the community. Festival Churches also host baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

Rev’d Pam Fraser posed the question at the start of the year: “what can we do as a church, and connect with what’s happening in our community?” In response, she says the church has renewed life and the community has life as well.

“Becoming a Festival Church takes the pressure off smaller parishes,” she says. “Instead of a weekly service, we do six really good events in a year, as well as Christmas and Easter.”

“For smaller churches, it can resurrect a parish and resurrect their people. Our parishioners really have so much energy now.”

The Cassilis parish is looking forward to their next big service, Christmas Carols.

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