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Messages about enduring light were popular among congregations at Dunedin Christmas services this year.
Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, Trevor James, said it was one of the major reasons Dunedin residents went to church over the festive period.
''People go where there's hope in bad times.
''The global recession, unemployment, the idea of money, rather than people - people are struggling out there.
''So our message has been the light shines in the darkness, and light has never been under cover.''
Mr James said the congregations were about 25% larger than previous years on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, because people were looking for hope.
The message was similar at Knox Church.
The Rev Dr Sarah Mitchell said about 800 people filled the church ''to capacity'' on Christmas Eve and about 160 people had attended the 10am Christmas service yesterday.
She said this year's message to the congregations was that peace and love could overcome war and violence.
The Rev Anne Thomson, of First Church, was delighted to see so many children embracing the Christmas spirit this year.
She said more than 550 attended the carol service for children on Christmas Eve after having a picnic tea on the lawns of the First Church.
A further 450 attended a midnight service and 200 attended the 10am service yesterday, to receive a Christmas message inspired by The Hobbit movie: ''It's in the small deeds of ordinary people that evil is defeated.''
St Joseph's Cathedral parish priest Monsignor John Harrison said both the midnight Mass and the 10am service were full.