Summer is upon us – hopefully – and we’re lucky enough to be preparing for the biggest and best Christian music festivals in the country.
Big Church Day Out
In just under three weeks’ time we will sing and play at The Big Church Day Out’s (BCDO) Southern Festival, at Wiston in West Sussex, on the afternoon of Bank Holiday Saturday 27 May. This will be closely followed just a week later by our appearance at the first ever of BCDO’s Northern Gatherings, at Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire, on the afternoon of Saturday 3 June. Before adding the northern festival BCDO was already the largest Christian music festival in Europe, with almost 25,000 at Wiston last year. After one or two years of “run-in time”, the northern festival will be just as big. BCDO, whose watchwords are “sing, don’t preach”, “only the best will do” and “affordable for all" stems from the evangelical wing of the British Christian communion but has spread into all corners of the churches, Catholic in particular. Over the years it has featured the very biggest artists in both contemporary christian music (CCM) and contemporary gospel (e.g. Kirk Franklin, Israel Houghton, Fred Hammond); we can confirm that production standards are a dream for performers; reasonable prices and a warm welcome make it a favoured destination for families and parish groups; and the message of Christ delivered only in song has brought hundreds back to the faith. The festivals occur in the Easter season between the great festivals of the Ascension and Pentecost: Soul Sanctuary will be upbeat and joy-filled!
Spirit in the City
Spirit in the City (SitC) was conceived as a joint venture of the four West End Catholic churches, with Notre Dame de France very much the moving spirit. It is one of the very few Christian gatherings which is given permission to use a London landmark every year – and we will have the great honour of performing the final set in the middle of Leicester Square at 6pm on Saturday 10 June, having taken part in every SitC festival since its launch exactly ten years ago. In musical terms we’re stepping into very big shoes, those of Noel Robinson and nu image, and as befits the great Festivals of Pentecost and the Holy Trinity we will be singing and playing songs that celebrate the Holy Spirit among us and the love of the triune God. We’ll be rocking the West End by keeping it energetic and soul-filled!
Station rules on PA permitting, we’ll be performing on the main concourse of Victoria Station during evening rush hour on Tuesday 13 June in aid of Railway Children, a superb Street Kids’ charity set up by a Christian railway executive twenty years ago in response to child homelessness he witnessed in India and Africa. In terms of permissions granted, this would be even more of an eyebrow-raiser than Trafalgar Square! We will keep you posted.
We are very honoured to be appearing at Greenbelt (GB) at Boughton House Northants on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August, late morning, with our “boss” from St James’s Piccadilly, the Rev Lucy Winkett. GB is the original British Christian music festival, and is especially close to the hearts of the gospel community, having played a major role in putting British gospel on the wider map some 30-40 years ago. Famous for its sensitivity to all faiths and beliefs, to its commitment to creating a creative space where artists of all skills and descriptions can perform and anyone can feel comfortable, Greenbelt’s theme this year is The Common Good. With spoken commentary and reflection by Lucy, we will be performing gospel songs which exemplify the music’s roots in social struggle and marginalisation.
Regular Church Services
Meanwhile we will be continuing to sing and play at the 5.30pm Roman Catholic Mass at Farm Street Church in Mayfair, Central London on the last Sunday of the month (with the exception of Sunday 27 August, because we’ll be at Greenbelt the next morning) and the 6pm Anglican Eucharist at St James’s Piccadilly. Importantly we'll be hosting one of our gospel singing workshops at St James's on Sunday 9th July at 4pm. It's open to everyone. It's free of charge, and we'll be singing the song that is taught in the workshop during the service at 6pm that evening. Friends of ours will know that at the heart of our mission is the desire to bring the glory and the spirit of contemporary gospel, suitably adapted, into Christian liturgies, and our journey along this path continues at these two magnificent churches. And on this subject, our “Toolkit” program, for providing the wherewithal to any other church or community wishing to start their own gospel choir, moves up a gear with the hiring of Beverly Collins who will be responsible for promoting the program actively. Thus far it’s been a case of “build it and they will come”…and to our joy and gratitude they have, but there are plenty more out there with whom we could be working.
We'd really appreciate your support in promoting the choir and our mission to spread gospel music. To receive a batch of flyers to display at your church/club/community centre/cafe/library, please contact Soul Sanctuary's publicity team.