On Sunday our parish took part in the annual joint ecumenical 'service' with the "Churches Together" outfit. Our priest had to re-arrange the usual 11am mass to 6pm on the Saturday evening. He said a 9am mass at the sister parish.
Anyway I don't usually take part in these events but this year I was curious to know what it was all about.
It was in a large community centre in the local market town and it was interdenominational. In this part of Sussex we have a lot of 'strict Baptists' and Methodists and there are off-shoots of the CofE such as the Union church and King's Church.
The average age was 60+ and there were about 10 teenagers and one child in a pushchair.
The main 'speaker' was a deacon from Chichester Cathedral and he was pop star confident. He calls himself Ishmael and makes CDs with happy clappy songs. Plus he had a stand with his book of meditations and daily thoughts. The CDs were for sale and a new one was about to come out! He was very slick and polished. There was also a huge poster of himself promoting his new CD.
He went on stage and called out for young participants - as he wanted them to do the actions to one of his 'songs'. These poor youngsters were dragged out and told to do certain hand and body gestures to his songs. He told the oldies to pretend to be children and do the actions. The 2 songs were "Woolfie Woolfie' and "Build a bigger barn". The words were on a screen in large print so the oldies could see it. There was a man playing some sort of musical instrument. The teenagers looked suitably embarrassed but did what they were told. The audience did their best.
The songs had a very strong message - about not putting your wealth in bigger barns and about knowing who the wolves are in sheep's clothing.
Apart from this 'knees up' there was an excellent speaker for "Street Pastors". This is an interdenominational organisation which goes out into the streets, in all weathers at night, to help drunks and druggies - plus wayward teenagers. It is a truly good thing working in partnership with the parish council and the local police. After 5 years our little town has no more anti-social behaviour. Street Pastors has been in the UK for 10 years.
They wear a navy uniform with large white lettering on the back "STREET PASTOR". There are now 10,000 pastors in the UK and growing. It is now international. The website is www.streetpastors.co.uk
Our parish priest decided we probably wouldn't take part in this event again. He said it wasn't worth swapping his 11am mass around. He felt rather uncomfortable with the whole thing.
Never sure what "Churches Together" are for anyway.