MAY I congratulate all those who helped to organise the St Cuthbert's Church Civic Carol Service held in Darlington on December 22.

Both the excellent as ever singing of the church choir and presence of the Bishop of Durham, who addressed the congregation, reminded us all of the significance that religion and faith has at this time of the year.

A time to meet with friends and family and officially start the Christmas celebrations but also a moment to reflect.

Of those present, however, I may not be alone in thinking that the occasion was somewhat "taken over" by the civic aspects of the event.

I lost count of the number of rows reserved for local dignitaries (leaving the rest to find refuge in the darker recesses of this splendid church) and whilst I recognise the importance that the role of public office has, it did feel that pomp and circumstance was overshadowing community spirit and common prayer.

Perhaps a sermon on humility is the order of the day and suggest we refer to James Chapter 2 v-1-26 for further spiritual guidance.

Stuart Masterman, Darlington.