Congregations buck trend to prove Christianity is alive and kicking in the 'Godless city'

Congregations buck trend to prove Christianity is alive and kicking in the 'Godless city'

Congregations buck trend to prove Christianity is alive and kicking in the 'Godless city'

Congregations buck trend to prove Christianity is alive and kicking in the 'Godless city'

First published in News by

Congregations spilling out of the front doors into the street and cars lined up bumper-to-bumper on pavements outside churches may not be the image that people associate with the UK’s God- less City.

But the weekend’s Easter celebrations are a clear indication that Christianity is alive and kicking in Brighton and Hove.

Ministers have told The Argus that it was standing room only in their churches as many came to devotedly mark this most important of Christian festivals.

Hundreds also turned out to see the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ in its new location outside St Peter’s Church in Brighton.

Religious leaders said that events like the Passion Play were an effective tool in spreading the message of Christ to the general public.

Any visitor to the city seeing a bloodied Christ being crucified may well be surprised to learn that they were visiting the UK’s Godless City based on the 2011 census data which revealed that more than 40% of Brighton and Hove residents describe themselves as having no religion with only marginally more people declaring themselves Christian.

Standing room only

The Argus visited three churches during Easter services on Sunday in Hollingdean and Westdene and found there was standing room only.

Reverend Andy Bousfield is minister of Ascension Church Westdene in Mill Rise, Brighton – one of the churches we visited.

He said the church’s Easter service attracted extra numbers than a usual Sunday service.

He said: “With Easter as well as Christmas, churches do put in a lot of effort into these festivals because they are so central to our faith.

“We believe our message is a public rather than a private message.

“We take our inspiration from Jesus Christ who took the message outwards, he came out to people who didn’t want to believe in God but he showed them the character of God and that’s what our churches should be doing.

“We should be thinking of more public things like the Passion of Christ to bring the message of Jesus Christ to our city.”

Director James Burke-Dunsmore hailed the Passion performance as a “beautiful” success.

He said that the performance was so engrossing that neither cast nor crew felt the almost freezing temperatures.

The 41-year-old said that the intention of the play wasn’t to preach to people about the correct way of celebrating Easter but he agreed that it had a profound spiritual effect on both cast and audience.

He said a recently-married couple spoke to him during the performance saying they had returned to the church following their wedding and were pleased to be able to enjoy a “non-preachy” Christian spectacle.

The Argus:

He said: “A lot of people feel that we have thrown the baby out with the bath water.

“With all the bad news about the church, people may feel uncomfort- able saying they are Christians.

“But all those Christian teachings we grow up, we’re not going to throw them away as well.

“I hope that people will turn to the church after experiencing the story in such a moving way and end up fuelling the church.

“I hope that people will go back to churches or maybe go having never been before full of this experience.

“The location worked so well, people had seen that it was on by just walking past it.”

Father Ray Blake, of St Mary Magdalen Church in Upper North Street, Brighton, announced earlier this month that he would no longer perform the traditional feet-washing ceremony of Holy Thursday because it “exploited” the poor.

He said that the church had up to 1,500 people attending Easter services with the congregation stretching out of the door and into the street.

Numbers boosted by visitors

He said his numbers may have been boosted by people visiting the city on holiday and because the bank holiday allowed more shop workers to attend.

He added: “So many of our people can’t come to mass on a Sunday because they are working so I think the fact that so many shops were shut helped.

“We are not like the Anglican churches full of the wealthy middle-class, they are the poor.

“Our Philippine, Polish and Slovak members will make a special attempt not to work at Easter.

“A few have complained about the street being blocked on Sunday but there’s nothing we can really do about that unless we start broadcasting our services in the church hall but we can’t really afford that.”

Comments (8)

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8:50pm Tue 2 Apr 13

Somethingsarejustwrong says...

I think your story hits the nail on the head quite nicely and demonstrates the double standards and selfishness of many of these church goers. Cars parked on pavements, how can that be acceptable, why not park legally and safely? Hypocrites!
I think your story hits the nail on the head quite nicely and demonstrates the double standards and selfishness of many of these church goers. Cars parked on pavements, how can that be acceptable, why not park legally and safely? Hypocrites! Somethingsarejustwrong
  • Score: 0

8:02am Wed 3 Apr 13

HJarrs says...

I like the dig at the Anglican Church by Father Ray Blake. Not much harmony in the Christian family in Brighton it seems.
I like the dig at the Anglican Church by Father Ray Blake. Not much harmony in the Christian family in Brighton it seems. HJarrs
  • Score: 0

8:15am Wed 3 Apr 13

alyn, southwick says...

Somethingsarejustwro
ng
wrote:
I think your story hits the nail on the head quite nicely and demonstrates the double standards and selfishness of many of these church goers. Cars parked on pavements, how can that be acceptable, why not park legally and safely? Hypocrites!
In the immortal words of the sacred and holy Brian,
"Moan, moan, moan, that’s what people do these days

Especially you old people (always look on the bright side of life)

All you’re gonna do is sit around and moan as you take your teeth away

Now come on girls, put the kettle on, have a nice cup of tea"
[quote][p][bold]Somethingsarejustwro ng[/bold] wrote: I think your story hits the nail on the head quite nicely and demonstrates the double standards and selfishness of many of these church goers. Cars parked on pavements, how can that be acceptable, why not park legally and safely? Hypocrites![/p][/quote]In the immortal words of the sacred and holy Brian, "Moan, moan, moan, that’s what people do these days Especially you old people (always look on the bright side of life) All you’re gonna do is sit around and moan as you take your teeth away Now come on girls, put the kettle on, have a nice cup of tea" alyn, southwick
  • Score: 0

8:20am Wed 3 Apr 13

alyn, southwick says...

Sorry worry badly copied, here's a better version,
"MOAN MOAN MOAN that's all people do these days, especially you old people

(Always look on the right side of life... )

If all you're going to do is sit around and moan they should take your teeth away!

Now c'mon girls put the kettle on, get a nice cup of tea, that's it."
Sorry worry badly copied, here's a better version, "MOAN MOAN MOAN that's all people do these days, especially you old people (Always look on the right side of life... ) If all you're going to do is sit around and moan they should take your teeth away! Now c'mon girls put the kettle on, get a nice cup of tea, that's it." alyn, southwick
  • Score: 0

12:37pm Wed 3 Apr 13

Cave Johnson says...

Yawn. The whole world is godless, and as everyone knows Easter is a pagan festival hijacked by bible bashers. Or do you think rabbits, eggs and fertility is to do with the rising of a zombie.
Yawn. The whole world is godless, and as everyone knows Easter is a pagan festival hijacked by bible bashers. Or do you think rabbits, eggs and fertility is to do with the rising of a zombie. Cave Johnson
  • Score: 0

1:18pm Wed 3 Apr 13

Number Six says...

Somethingsarejustwro
ng
wrote:
I think your story hits the nail on the head quite nicely and demonstrates the double standards and selfishness of many of these church goers. Cars parked on pavements, how can that be acceptable, why not park legally and safely? Hypocrites!
Hit the nail on the head? At Easter? And there was me thinking that irony was dead
[quote][p][bold]Somethingsarejustwro ng[/bold] wrote: I think your story hits the nail on the head quite nicely and demonstrates the double standards and selfishness of many of these church goers. Cars parked on pavements, how can that be acceptable, why not park legally and safely? Hypocrites![/p][/quote]Hit the nail on the head? At Easter? And there was me thinking that irony was dead Number Six
  • Score: 0

6:51pm Wed 3 Apr 13

Somethingsarejustwrong says...

alyn, southwick wrote:
Sorry worry badly copied, here's a better version,
"MOAN MOAN MOAN that's all people do these days, especially you old people

(Always look on the right side of life... )

If all you're going to do is sit around and moan they should take your teeth away!

Now c'mon girls put the kettle on, get a nice cup of tea, that's it."
What a strange set of posts
[quote][p][bold]alyn, southwick[/bold] wrote: Sorry worry badly copied, here's a better version, "MOAN MOAN MOAN that's all people do these days, especially you old people (Always look on the right side of life... ) If all you're going to do is sit around and moan they should take your teeth away! Now c'mon girls put the kettle on, get a nice cup of tea, that's it."[/p][/quote]What a strange set of posts Somethingsarejustwrong
  • Score: 0

11:48pm Thu 4 Apr 13

Nitrous_McBread says...

I find Passion Plays wonderfully quaint and fun, and they're part of the cultural history of Brighton just as much as the annual pantomime.

Unfortunately, the philosophy behind them preaches hatred of homosexuals, subjugation of women, genocide, paedophilia, rape and torture, and makes a virtue of ignorance. You can't say the same about the Burning of the Clocks or the annual Children's Parade.

Maybe fun-loving, forward-thinking, freedom-embracing Brighton wouldn't reject this Stone Age cult as emphatically as it does if its adherents actually followed the radical, humble, self-effacing teachings of Jesus instead of largely coming across as bigoted, holier-than-thou, inadequate victim-types scared of stepping outside their Christian ghettos.
I find Passion Plays wonderfully quaint and fun, and they're part of the cultural history of Brighton just as much as the annual pantomime. Unfortunately, the philosophy behind them preaches hatred of homosexuals, subjugation of women, genocide, paedophilia, rape and torture, and makes a virtue of ignorance. You can't say the same about the Burning of the Clocks or the annual Children's Parade. Maybe fun-loving, forward-thinking, freedom-embracing Brighton wouldn't reject this Stone Age cult as emphatically as it does if its adherents actually followed the radical, humble, self-effacing teachings of Jesus instead of largely coming across as bigoted, holier-than-thou, inadequate victim-types scared of stepping outside their Christian ghettos. Nitrous_McBread
  • Score: 0

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