Exploring the responses of non-churchgoers to a cathedral pre-Christmas son et lumiere

McKenna, U., Francis, L.J., Village, A. and Stewart, F. (2024) Exploring the responses of non-churchgoers to a cathedral pre-Christmas son et lumiere. HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, 80 (1). ISSN 0259-9422

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Two conceptual strands of research within the field of cathedral studies have theorised the capacity of Anglican cathedrals to engage more successfully than parish churches with the wider non-churchgoing community: one strand has explored mobilising cathedral metaphors, and the other strand has explored the notion of implicit religion. Both strands illuminate the power of events and installations to soften the boundaries between common ground and sacred space. Drawing on a quantitative survey among 978 people who attended the pre-Christmas son et lumiere at Liverpool Cathedral during December 2022, the present study analyses the qualitative responses of 123 participants who never attend church services. Three categories of themes emerged from these data, concerning the Cathedral itself, the installation, and discordant experience. Contribution: Situated within the science of cathedral studies, this paper draws on original qualitative data to illuminate the experiences of participants who never attend church services when engaging with the pre-Christmas son et lumiere at a major cathedral. Conceptualised within the framework of implicit religion these data confirmed how the son et lumiere succeeded in softening boundaries between the sacred and the secular and provided a deeply moving experience. As one participant said, ‘I am not religious, but I had the best experience ever’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by AOSIS in 2024. This is an author accepted manuscript of a published open access article available at https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v80i1.9347. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: cathedral studies sacred space common ground cathedral metaphors implicit religion visitor studies
Depositing User: Ursula Mckenna
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2023 16:21
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2024 09:09
URI: https://bgro.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/1079

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