After leading us in 26 events over three and a bit years, the final chords of Robin Marks’ Revival brought down the curtain on Rachel Ganney’s tenure at our first ever RE event in Greatfield and, with our shorter that usual Autumn season behind us, I would like to take a few moments to reflect on what was an emotional evening for all of us.
I think it is fair to say that without Rachel and Paul, the RE probably would not exist. It was originally Paul’s brainchild … in fact, if memory serves, I believe he was talking with the Greenbelt worship team and rather opportunistically announced that we could do a Rock Eucharist for the festival if they wanted it. When they said “Yes”, Paul, Rachel and I had to get around a table and decide what one of those actually was and how we might pull it off. Even then, it is hard to see where it might have gone without Paul being married to a Minister who was just crazy enough to agree to lead one.
Since then, the RE has taken on a life of its own through its various versions, and Rachel has been a loud and enthusiastic advocate for the events in the church. She also became very much part and parcel of theREIGN family and we will certainly miss her insight, her humility and her desire to use this resource to bring God’s people before him in worship in new and interesting ways.
As far as I am concerned, it was quite fitting that her final local event (she will be “guesting” with us in Warrington in March) should be an experiment. Alison Gilchrist, vicar at St Hilda’s Church in Greatfield went into the event without any idea of how it would be received, how many might attend – or indeed whether anyone would attend at all – or what impact it may have on her Church.
That, ultimately, is what the RE is all about – bringing the word and worship of God to his people in an accessible and reverent fashion … and sprinkled with famous rock riffs.
Rachel, if you happen to read this, theREIGN would like to thank you, publicly, for everything you have brought to us, and brought us to, over these 39 months and 26 events.
We will miss you, and we wish you (and Paul) every blessing in your new church and ministry.
Autumn is always a time of change for Communion on the Rocks, as it is traditionally the season in which we introduce a new version of the event, and 2010 is no exception. Taking The Step (version 4) is to be debuted this coming Sunday at Sutton Methodist Church, which sees us step outside the Church of England for the first time and we are delighted to be able to join our Methodist Brothers and Sisters in celebrating Holy Communion together in this way.
The new event sees some major changes, and some familiar favourites sitting nicely alongside each other, as we re-visit some of the most successful forms of liturgy from prior versions of the event, including RE2’s ever popular Eucharistic Prayer set to Blur’s Song 2.
However, this year, far greater changes are afoot as we wish a fond, and somewhat emotional, farewell to Rachel Ganney, who has led these events with huge skill, reverence and flair for the last 3 years. See theREIGN’s Blog for further details about her and Paul’s move to the big smoke.
Rachel’s are big shoes to fill, and handed that unenviable task is Revd Andrew (Andy) Simpson, from All Saints’ Church, Hessle. Whilst new to working with theREIGN, Andy and lead vocalist David Cooper have known each other for over 25 years and, truth be told, David’s life would have taken some very different turns along the way if that friendship had never existed.
We welcome Andy into the fold, and time will tell whether he lives to regret his comments (immediately following attending RE2 at Greenbelt_08) that if we ever had a opening to lead the events, he would “love to do it”. He will make his debut leading the forthcoming Taking The Step event at Holy Trinity in Barrow on Sunday 21 November 2010.
Please pray for Rachel and Paul as they begin this exciting new chapter of their life, and for Andy as he takes his own step into Communion on the Rocks.
Digital TV is great … all these channels, and still nothing to watch. Nothing new, anyway. In truth, I have been greatly enjoying the opportunity to re-watch Babylon 5 (my favourite TV show of all time) all the way through on FX, in spite of already owning all the episodes on DVD. Check it out, weeknights at 6pm or all afternoon Sunday from 1pm onwards.
Anyhoo, back on topic … on Thursday of this week, the final episode of season 4 (The Deconstruction of Falling Stars) was on, and the first act of the episode consisted of a “talking heads” type discussion show where the recent happenings in the story were examined by journalistic voices. The presenter of the show framed this using the word “Selah”, which appears a lot in the Psalms, and was taken to mean “Pause and Consider” in the context of the show.
Please note … I am aware that, in fact, the word is tough to translate into English and may mean nothing of the sort, but just go with me on this one, OK?
Given the three week break between the RE3 event at Scarborough on the 7th March, and the next one in Leven on the 28th, this inspired me to do a bit of pausing and considering on where we, and the RE events, are at the moment. Selah!
We have now done a total of 21 RE events over the past two and a half years (5 of RE1, and 8 each of RE2 and RE3, for those keeping score) and for us, as a band, they continue to provide the bulk of our diary and probably the most powerful expression of God’s Kingdom that we undertake through our ministry.
We have recently joked that the next RE could be a “greatest hits” of the three existing versions, lifting the Eucharistic Prayer from RE2, the Confession from RE3, the Intercessions from RE1, for example, and stitching the whole thing together into a new event, but instead a new and fresh RE4 will be born over the Summer of 2010 for rolling out in the Autumn season.
From my perspective, I think all three versions have much to commend them.
Whilst Heaven in the Ordinary is probably the weakest overall, it was the first, involved much trial and error, and was ultimately born of that great moment of stress and anxiety that screams “can we really do this?” into your ear at maximum volume. Also, no event can be bad when you play Smells Like Teen Spirit and Blessed Be Your Name almost back to back.
Rising Sun learned the lessons of RE1, and improved the whole package, whilst stealing some of its best bits for itself … stand up once again Blessed Be Your Name. This was also where we started to experiment more with using familiar secular intros to lead into worship songs. And all of this is topped off with the magnificent Eucharistic Prayer inviting a room full of Homer Simpsons (sorry, Damon Albarns) to scream “WooHoo” at the top of their voices in celebration.
Though We Are Many, again learned much from its predecessor and moved things on again. A much larger game of “Spot The Riff” can now be enjoyed as Paul liberally sprinkles famous guitar lines throughout the event. As a whole, it is probably the most coherent in terms of its theme, perhaps simply because we used our own rather than sticking with the theme of that year’s Greenbelt Festival. Nothing quite reaches the heights of Song 2, though.
The bottom line is that I love doing these events. The sense of worship, joy and celebration is absolutely tangible, and the way God has moved in us and in those churches where events have been held has been extraordinary to behold, and their appeal to those aged 8 to 80 continues to baffle and delight me.
God has used these events in powerful ways both in churches and in individuals, and I praise and thank Him that I have been able to give my meagre talents to His service in this way, and I am very much looking forward to the final two in this Spring series and then the annual brainstorm that is working out which songs we can realistically use in RE4, and the annual ritual of Paul’s “You really expect me to play that?” face when we decide on a particularly tricky intro … stand up Sweet Child of Mine.
If you get a chance to get down to one of these events, do. It will be an eye-opener and no mistake. If not, why not invite us to lead one in your church. Trust me, you won’t regret it.