‘You’ve got a lot of bottle to play that thing in here, sir!’ The time: 1979. The place: an unsuspecting sixth-form common room somewhere in the South of England. The ‘thing’: my new Ovation six-string guitar. The event: one of the many concerts I played in schools, colleges and prisons around Europe.
I rewound my memory banks to the day when I had my first brush with the owner of the ears on the receiving end of my twanging guitar. It was 1966 (ouch!), and with a low-slung Broadway solid electric guitar, which cost around £7.14s.6d. (secondhand), and my supercool sixties image, complete with adequate haircut and sideburns, I hit the headlines in the Sheerness Times Guardian – a local newspaper in Kent.
The headline was: “Beating The Hell Out Of Sheerness!” I was lead singer in my first “rock band” playing Gospel and “folk/rock” music in local venues around the Isle of Sheppey, the place I moved to after leaving London in my early teens. The local paper picked up the story because of complaints in the letters page about this bunch of long haired youths using rock music to push the Christian message to unsuspecting audiences. However, the complaints came from local “vicars” concerned for the welfare of their fragile and delicate young people in the churches who were coming to our concerts. It took me completely by surprise! I never thought I’d be shot at verbally by someone I was supposedly representing! Here was a clergyman going public on the evils of ‘beat music’ and the audacity of young whipper snappers claiming to be communicators of spiritual truth.
I am grateful that these days, the church is far more open to communicating its message in contemporary ways – after all we believe in a creative God, so using creativity, in all its varied forms, is all part of celebrating our lives made in the image of God. Here in Oving, at All Saints, we are able to explore a rich heritage of traditional services, such as Sung Evensong and Holy Communion on Sunday evenings, and more informal services, such as Messy Church and Informal Praise on Sunday mornings. They are all valid expressions of our life in God and enable us to celebrate our relationship with Him in ways that relate to different people.
So a warm welcome to all, to come and explore a journey with God that can be fulfilling, life affirming and full of hope. All our services are published right here in Oving News. If you are not a churchgoer, why not come along and see what we’re doing?