Original Research - Special Collection: Gender Justice and Health and Human Development

Cathedrals as agents of psychological health and well-being within secular societies: Assessing the impact of the Holly Bough service in Liverpool Cathedral

Leslie J. Francis, Susan H. Jones
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 3 | a6250 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i3.6250 | © 2020 Leslie J. Francis, Susan H. Jones | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 July 2020 | Published: 02 November 2020

About the author(s)

Leslie J. Francis, Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom; Department of New Testament Studies and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Susan H. Jones, Department of New Testament Studies and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Abstract

This study is designed to test the hypothesis that events like the Holly Bough service held in Liverpool Cathedral on the fourth Sunday of Advent that attracts a wide range of participants, including regular churchgoers and occasional (sometimes annual) visitors, contribute significantly to the psychological health and well-being of these participants. At the Holly Bough service held in 2019, a total of 383 participants (139 men, 229 women and 15 individuals who preferred anonymity) completed a recognised measure of psychological health and well-being (the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire) whilst they were waiting for the service to begin and again during a 5-min organ improvisation just before the close of the service. The data demonstrated a significantly higher score on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire at time 2 than at time 1, suggesting that the experience of the service functioned as an agent of psychological health and well-being.

Contribution: Situated within the science of cathedral studies, this paper confirms by means of a repeated-measure study that cathedrals promote psychological health; 383 participants at a Christmas service completed the same well-being measure before and after the service, with a significant increase in scores at time two.


Keywords

Cathedral studies; Psychological health; Oxford happiness questionnaire; Carol service; Psychology of religion

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