Minister plans 'udderly' amazing nativity service with help of farm animals
A church minister has recruited a special cast for a Christmas Eve nativity service - farm animals.
Church of Scotland r everend Elspeth McKay has arranged for a Highland cow and her calf, a donkey called Jason, sheep and a pony to attend the annual service at Midmar Church in Aberdeenshire.
Mrs McKay is a huge fan of BBC comedy The Vicar Of Dibley and said people often liken her to the central character Geraldine, played by actress Dawn French.
She said the four-legged cast members will add a "touch of realism" to the traditional nativity story and she hopes the service will remind people there is more to Christmas than Santa Claus and presents.
Mrs McKay, who has led Echt and Midmar Churches Together for two-and-a-half years, has teamed up with three farmers for the event.
She 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.
"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."
In one episode of The Vicar Of Dibley, Geraldine turned her church into an ark for a pet blessing service.
Mrs McKay said she and the other organisers were "definitely having a Vicar Of Dibley moment" when they decided on the service programme.
She added: "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.
"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."