Live animals to add 'touch of realism' to nativity tale
Farmers pitch in for special Christingle service in Aberdeenshire church.
A Church of Scotland minister is holding a special Christmas service starring a cast of farm animals.
Rev Elspeth McKay has arranged for a Highland cow and her calf, a sheep, a pony and a donkey named Jason to attend the annual Christingle service at Midmar Church in Aberdeenshire on Christmas Eve.
The minister said the four-legged cast members would add a "touch of realism" to the nativity story.
Ms McKay, who has led Echt and Midmar Churches Together for two and a half years, added she hoped the service with a difference would remind people there is more to Christmas than Santa and presents.
She has teamed up with three local farmers to make the community event extra special, particularly for children.
Ms McKay said: "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' 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."
In an early episode of BBC sitcom 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.
Ms McKay is a fan of the show and said she 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.
The Christingle Service, organised by Echt and Midmar Churches Together, is being held at 4pm at Midmar Church in Echt.
As there is limited parking at the church, there will be a shuttle bus provided from Midmar Hall car park, located about 1.5 miles away, from 3pm.