600 guests welcomed to Wembley Stadium in December for a special Christmas service

Friday 08 Dec 2023
Over 600 guests were at Wembley for the event on Sunday 3 December

The FA and Wembley Stadium hosted a special Celebration of Christianity and Football on Sunday 3 December.

Our ‘Faith and Football’ series has seen thousands of people from various faith groups engage with football through our education and faith events across the country in recent years and with Christmas 2023 fast approaching, over 600 people came to worship at the national stadium.

Hosted by broadcaster Adrian Chiles, special guests included the Archbishop of Westminster and Liverpool fan, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and sports presenter Simon Thomas.

Guests were treated to a panel discussion before the pitchside service

The worship was led by Matt Baker, national director of Sports Chaplaincy UK, with a key note speech from Dr Graham Daniels, general director of Christians in Sport and a former professional footballer.

A panel discussion took place featuring Mick Court (technical chief scout for Manchester United), Angy King (Club chaplain at Reading FC and pastoral co-ordinator for chaplains in women’s football), Michael Bennett (director of wellbeing for the Professional Footballers’ Association), Jason McCarthy (Player, Wycombe Wanderers) and Bruce Dyer (former professional footballer and now church pastor), before Simon Thomas spoke about his faith, life and career in football broadcasting.

Notts County’s John Bostock was then interviewed on stage about the Ballers in God organisation, the largest group of Christian professional footballers in the world before former England Lioness striker Rachel Yankey spoke about her experiences in the game as an elite player.

Following the events in the Bobby Moore Suite, the party relocated to pitchside where an early-evening service was led by Matt Baker alongside speaker Pastor Agu Irukwu, senior pastor at Jesus House for all Nations.

Music during the service was performed by Ken Burton and the London Adventist Chorale and the Salvation Army Regent Hall Band, led by Paul Sharman.

The event at Wembley follows on from similar celebrations earlier in 2023 during Ramadan, with an open iftar meal, and a ceremony with hymns, prayers and lights for Vaisakhi.

Do you want to learn more about football and how to get involved? Visit our website to find football in your local area. Also see the FA’s Faith and Football Calendar and the FA’s latest ‘Belief in the Game’ guidance.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels