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Cathedrals illuminated to encourage onlookers to come to church

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, launched the Church of England's Night of the Stars outside Canterbury Cathedral.

The special Evensong services were part of the Church of England's "Follow The Star" campaign which also features reflections from Christmas Eve to Epiphany.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler went to the light show at Durham Cathedral.

Both events were attended by hundreds of people carol singing and music was provided by the cathedrals' choirs.

The two ancient cathedrals are both World Heritage Sites and they are the first to use this type of technology in a worship service. The Church of England says it was aiming to bring the beauty of a cathedral service to a wider audience outside.

Other churches across the country displayed illuminated stars for the Follow the Star campaign, with the aim of encouraging people to come to church services this Christmas.

Many other stars have been put out as part of this campaign. Congregations and wider communities across the country have mounted illuminated stars on towers, walls and advertising hoardings and produced a range of star-themed items from T shirts to beer mats to promote the campaign.

The Dean of Durham, Andrew Tremlett, said: "Taking part in the #FollowTheStar campaign is a brilliant opportunity for Durham Cathedral to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, the child at the heart of all Christmas celebrations, across the region and beyond."

"With the tradition of pilgrimage deeply ingrained in the history of the Cathedral, we have been delighted to welcome a large number to join us in witnessing our magnificent building illuminated with stars, offering people a way to connect afresh with God this festive period."

Launching the campaign, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: "Wherever you are this Christmas, you are invited to follow the star and to be with Jesus.

"#FollowTheStar doesn't ask you to be perfect. It says: come just as you are to take the life-changing Christmas journey. You are welcome. You are deeply known and truly loved."

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