Let us bray! Animals help recreate nativity scene

A Church of Scotland minister is channelling her inner Vicar of Dibley and holding a special Christmas service starring a cast of LIVE farm animals.

Rev Elspeth McKay
Rev Elspeth McKay with Jason the donkey and friend

Rev Elspeth McKay, 49, has arranged for a Highland Cow and her calf, Jason the Donkey, sheep and a pony to attend the annual Christingle service at Midmar Church in Aberdeenshire on Christmas Eve.

The minister, who is a big fan of the BBC television programme and admits people often liken her to the central character Geraldine played by actress Dawn French, said the four legged cast members would add a “touch of realism” to the Nativity story.

Mrs McKay, who has led Echt and Midmar Churches Together for two and a half years, added that she hoped the service with a difference would remind people that there is more to Christmas than Santa and presents.

She has teamed up with three fun loving local farmers to make the community event extra special, particularly for children.

Mrs McKay said: “Over the last two years, we have been blessed with the presence of Jason the Donkey who last year came into the Church building to meet the children.

“This will be the third year that Jason, owned by Netta Sangster who is a member of Echt Church, has attended the Nativity and he is an absolute star.

“But this year we decided to take things to the next level and we will have a collection of other animals outside the Church such as Highland cows, sheep and a pony which will add a touch of realism to the story of Jesus’s birth.

“Having the animals there will remind us that the son of God was not born into a prosperous family, but in a stable surrounded by the animals who were living there.”

Vicar of Dibley moment

Rev Elspeth McKay with Highland cows

Mrs McKay said she and the other organisers were “definitely having a Vicar of Dibley moment”.

“We are very excited about the service but I am not sure whether all the animals will get on, I guess we will just have to see,” she added.

“We are in a rural location and it is something different and reminds us that the Christmas story is not all about presents or Santa.”

In a season one episode of the Vicar of Dibley, Geraldine turned her church into an Ark for a pet blessing service which, after an initial hiccup, proved to be a huge success.

The Christingle Service, organised by Echt and Midmar Churches Together, is being held at 4pm at Midmar Church.

As there is limited parking at the Church, there will be a shuttle bus provided from Midmar Hall car park, located about 1.5miles away, from 3pm.

Mrs McKay, who confirmed there would not be a live Baby Jesus involved in the service, said: “Everyone is welcome but I would advise people to come early to see all the visitors and get a seat.”