Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: By Francis Wood

Idol THOUGHTS

Priest Idol, series on Channel 4 TV provided good viewing. First we met the run-down village Church at Lundwood in the South Yorkshire coalfield. We saw it transformed from a congregation of 15 to a vibrant Church under the leadership of a young priest guided by a local marketing firm. By re-branding the Church as "Church-Lite" (easier to digest and 50% less stuffy) they tapped into a niche market which amazed everyone.

They completely redesigned the inside of St Mary's Church, importing a gospel choir with a stand-up comedian (Jimmy Cricket) to preach. Then, subjecting the village to a really hard sell, including billboards and loudspeaker van, they packed the pews. The lasting question for me was, "Can you really stage manage the Holy Spirit in this kind of way?" God moves in his own mysterious way, his wonders to perform. And if our ways are not his way, there's no way we can nudge his elbow into action, even to filling the pews. The best we can do is to stage manage our situation so that the Holy Spirit can work more effectively. That's when the hard work begins.

Priest Idol was a great series; those taking part were real people and there was a happy ending. But it left me thinking that most Churches have enough problems paying for drainpipes and weekly running repairs. So who picked up the bill for this kind of plan?" Could it be Channel Four? Sadly we don't all have them on our side.

WELCOME, YOUR GRACE

The Church of England has a reputation for being able to put on a good show on our national occasions. Royal weddings, thanksgivings and state funerals command worldwide audiences. Much depends on the dignity, solemnity and careful construction of the operation. So when the new black Archbishop of York was enthroned in York Minster how did African drums, dancers and rhythms blend with a ceremony drawn from centuries of English tradition? Perfectly.

John Mugabi Tucker Sentamu was left in no doubt that he was welcome in the Northern Province as the applause of the congregation gave way to a spectacular display, before the altar, of drumming, dancing, colour and costume. …

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