9 Carol and 9 Lessons Carol Service Oakham Town Council & All Saints Church Oakham Rutland Cancelled
The Rev Canon Lee Francis-Dehqani said the service will go ahead on the 22nd December but it will no longer be a joint service of the church and Oakham Town Council.
The Rev Lee has sent a private letter to all town councillors explaining the reason why this
decision was made.
Unfortunately Oakham Town Council has decided not to distribute the letter to all members
as is normal. It is my understanding that the letter will be read out during as an exempt item
at the next meeting of the council on the 14th December 2016.
When I spoke with the Rev Lee yesterday I learnt the main reason might be due to a previous agenda
item. It would seem the church did not ask for us to pay for the advert that Cllr Adam Lowe asked
us to pay for.
I won't be able to share the Rev Lee's letter at his request. It is a great shame this has happened.
I have attended the service each year since living in Oakham and have always found the church
very welcoming and hospitable. I am not sure if I will be welcome this year.
The relationship between the church and council has always been a rocky one since 2005 and as a member of the council I can fully understand why and don't blame the church.
Back in 2005 this was the headline news in the Rutland and Stamford Mercury
Vicar bans carol concert in church
10:32 Friday 30 September 2005
THE vicar of All Saints Church in Oakham has banned the town council from holding its carol concert in the church. And the parish will be out of pocket because of the decision.
The Rev Lee Francis-Dehqani says he is happy to accommodate a carol service, but not a carol concert, and says events which do not have religious elements are best held at a secular venue.
The popular concert is organised by Oakham Town Council and always includes a collection for the church.
Mayor Paul Beech said he was dismayed by the decision and says he hopes Mr Francis–Dehqani will change his mind.
But the council has provisionally booked Oakham Castle for this year's event, despite concerns it may not be large enough.
Mr Francis-Dehqani said: ''It is a town concert and we feel the castle is an appropriate venue for it. We hold our own parish carol service for the whole town.
''If the town council wants to hold a parish service as opposed to a concert, All Saints Church will be available. Events which don't have religious elements are best held in a secular venue.''
Mr Beech said: ''I'm disappointed that we are not going to be able to hold the concert in the church, mainly because of the amount of local people that have enjoyed it over the years.
"It has the space, acoustics and is a fitting place to hold a carol concert.
"I think in the long-term he might change his mind. All churches are part of the community and should lead the way.
''Hymns are religious, carols are seasonal. But that doesn't alter the fact the carols we all sing at Christmas time are related to Christianity.''
The carol concert used to be held at Oakham Castle, but was moved to All Saints Church several years ago after there was an asbestos scare at the castle. Over the past few years it has grown increasingly popular. This year, Vale of Catmose College pupils will be providing the music and there are plans to invite the scouts and guides if there is room.
The event also includes the presentation for the best Christmas window displays awards and is followed up with a cup of tea and mince pies.
Town councillors will discuss the situation at their meeting on Wednesday.
The church's parish carol service takes place on Sunday, December 18, at 6pm.