by Helen Holt
St Mary’s Church will have a new vicar leading the Christmas services this year.
The Rev Ben Randall said he is excited to celebrate Christmas in Timaru, and glad that St Mary’s will be open for everyone.
He was inducted on March 20, having previously been the assistant curate at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.
Despite never having spent much time here before 2020, the Christchurch-born vicar said he has loved being in Timaru.
“Everyone is very welcoming and friendly. It has everything a big city has to offer, but also has the closeness of a small town.”
March was an unusual time to move to Timaru, Rev Randall said, as his first service was the day before the nationwide lockdown.
“On my first day it was quite funny. When I was being welcomed we had to say that we were closing the church for a few weeks, after recommendation from the diocese.”
The church will offer many services in the leadup to Christmas Day, including Nine Lessons and Carols this Sunday at 10am.
It is a service he always looked forward to, with the carol singing and the lovely St Mary’s Choir, Rev Randall said.
A “Blue Christmas” service will be held on December 23 for those who have experienced loss or hardship this year and would prefer a quieter service.
“Christmas gets a lot of people excited. But for some, Christmas is painful, for those who lost loved ones, experience depression or loneliness and don’t feel connected with the ‘Happy Holidays vibe’.