Batter idea to get church pews filled

This Is Wiltshire: Rev Harvey Gibbons, second right, says pancake races at St Augustine’s Church, Rodbourne, are part of new plans to boost the congregation Rev Harvey Gibbons, second right, says pancake races at St Augustine’s Church, Rodbourne, are part of new plans to boost the congregation

ST AUGUSTINE’S Church in Rodbourne is taking risks in an effort to boost its numbers and open its doors to the community, according to its priest in charge.

On Saturday morning, members of the wider community were invited to attend a series of pancake races, or a pancake breakfast for those less adventurous, at the church.

The opening of the doors was described as a risk which churches, including their own, needed to be taking, by Rev Harvey Gibbons.

The priest in charge, who also oversees matters at St Barnabas and All Saints churches, has been at the Summers Street organisation for nine months and says he has been impressed by his congregation’s enthusiasm.

“They are very enthusiastic, energetic, into new ideas and ways of promoting the gospel,” said Rev Gibbons.

“That’s being worked on all the time. Promoting the gospel is what we’re here for.

“They’re not afraid to take risks – like opening the doors to the public.

“They can see things like this as a risk. The church is getting better at being more open to the idea of doing things differently.”

One of the church wardens responsible for organising the event agreed and said the aim was to give people another insight into what church life can be like.

Lee Thompson, 48, of Marlborough Road, said: “This is a parish exercise. We wanted to open it up to anyone who wants to come along.”

Lee has been a warden for three years and initially joined up with the congregation as a resident of nearby Bruce Street.

As a result of his experience at the forefront of church life, Lee is not expecting an immediate rush of new members to flood in, though he hopes events like Saturday’s can go some way to encouraging others to join up.

“The boosting of numbers is a by-product of opening our doors to society,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t see the relevance of church in today’s setting.

“We want to open the doors and let them see that church isn’t a boring Sunday morning activity and that we are human and we like a good time.”

Across a two-hour period children of all ages ran up and down the church hall with frying pans, flipping their pancakes as they went.

The unconventional crowd-drawer will be followed by a church quiz later this month.

At 7.30pm on Friday, March 14 in St Augustine’s the quiz will be held. All are welcome.

Comments (4)

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5:41am Mon 3 Mar 14

JohnnyDale says...

Eh? What risk exactly was the church taking here?

The only risk I see is the one taken by the parents - exposing their impressionable children to this nefarious cult for the sake of an hour's fun and a free snack.
Eh? What risk exactly was the church taking here? The only risk I see is the one taken by the parents - exposing their impressionable children to this nefarious cult for the sake of an hour's fun and a free snack. JohnnyDale
  • Score: 2

8:16am Mon 3 Mar 14

house on the hill says...

JohnnyDale wrote:
Eh? What risk exactly was the church taking here?

The only risk I see is the one taken by the parents - exposing their impressionable children to this nefarious cult for the sake of an hour's fun and a free snack.
Totally agree, way to much pressure and brainwashing by parents and schools. Allow children to grow and make their own decision about religion (which one, is there one, why are so many people killed and tortured in the name of religion, why is the age of consent only 12 in Vatican city, etc). People can actually be nice and caring and giving without the need to follow some "god" or only doing so because they believe they should be. Let kids grow up first.
[quote][p][bold]JohnnyDale[/bold] wrote: Eh? What risk exactly was the church taking here? The only risk I see is the one taken by the parents - exposing their impressionable children to this nefarious cult for the sake of an hour's fun and a free snack.[/p][/quote]Totally agree, way to much pressure and brainwashing by parents and schools. Allow children to grow and make their own decision about religion (which one, is there one, why are so many people killed and tortured in the name of religion, why is the age of consent only 12 in Vatican city, etc). People can actually be nice and caring and giving without the need to follow some "god" or only doing so because they believe they should be. Let kids grow up first. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

11:54am Mon 3 Mar 14

LMSargent says...

Not many people see the relevance of church today – and a lot have many misconceptions.

At Sunday school the children are taught the importance of being kind to one another, to be patient and learn to share. They learn the importance of thinking of others before themselves, of saying thank you, and not taking things for granted. It also gives them an opportunity to socialise, and to belong to a caring and supportive community. It is an extension of what they learn at home and at school.
I find the use of the term ‘brainwashing’ rather sensationalist and lacking in any real thought. The children are read stories from the bible, much as they might be read fables at home, they (and indeed the rest of the congregation) are always encouraged to question what they learn from the Bible; to question its relevance and meaning, and to decide for themselves what ‘God’ means to them – whether he is a physical being or simply a word for the goodness in us, or anything else in between.
We very much hope the children in our congregation will grow up well informed and inquisitive enough to make up their own minds about all sorts of things in life, religion included. If they do decide that church is not for them, we hope they enjoyed the time they spent and the friends they made.

If anyone wants to explore other faiths prominent in Swindon, St Augustine’s have an interfaith course starting this month, covering 6 different religions. We welcome anyone with a curious and open mind.
Not many people see the relevance of church today – and a lot have many misconceptions. At Sunday school the children are taught the importance of being kind to one another, to be patient and learn to share. They learn the importance of thinking of others before themselves, of saying thank you, and not taking things for granted. It also gives them an opportunity to socialise, and to belong to a caring and supportive community. It is an extension of what they learn at home and at school. I find the use of the term ‘brainwashing’ rather sensationalist and lacking in any real thought. The children are read stories from the bible, much as they might be read fables at home, they (and indeed the rest of the congregation) are always encouraged to question what they learn from the Bible; to question its relevance and meaning, and to decide for themselves what ‘God’ means to them – whether he is a physical being or simply a word for the goodness in us, or anything else in between. We very much hope the children in our congregation will grow up well informed and inquisitive enough to make up their own minds about all sorts of things in life, religion included. If they do decide that church is not for them, we hope they enjoyed the time they spent and the friends they made. If anyone wants to explore other faiths prominent in Swindon, St Augustine’s have an interfaith course starting this month, covering 6 different religions. We welcome anyone with a curious and open mind. LMSargent
  • Score: 6

7:00pm Mon 3 Mar 14

The Zax says...

I really hope this takes off. The sight of massed ranks of pancake tossing Christians hurtling down the thoroughfares of Swindon would be truly compelling, and the churches would surely soon be teeming.

Sadly, signs of it becoming a large-scale popular movement would likely result in the enterprise being snuffed out by the SBC or other administrative body. Grounds for suppression and control are never hard to come by. Take the photo above for instance. The small girl could be deemed "at risk" of tripping and sustaining facial injury from contact with the road surface and/or cookware. Non-Christians may be offended, or feel threatened. Horses protected in a dust-encrusted by-law might be scared.

If, by some fluke, the practice survived and gained a following, it would be a short time before secular or pagan groups attempted to steal their thunder. The latter would primly insist that pancake tossing is merely a ritual usurped from the blue-faced ancients, and chippy sceptics run a bus ad campaign along the lines of "God! Why give a toss?"
I really hope this takes off. The sight of massed ranks of pancake tossing Christians hurtling down the thoroughfares of Swindon would be truly compelling, and the churches would surely soon be teeming. Sadly, signs of it becoming a large-scale popular movement would likely result in the enterprise being snuffed out by the SBC or other administrative body. Grounds for suppression and control are never hard to come by. Take the photo above for instance. The small girl could be deemed "at risk" of tripping and sustaining facial injury from contact with the road surface and/or cookware. Non-Christians may be offended, or feel threatened. Horses protected in a dust-encrusted by-law might be scared. If, by some fluke, the practice survived and gained a following, it would be a short time before secular or pagan groups attempted to steal their thunder. The latter would primly insist that pancake tossing is merely a ritual usurped from the blue-faced ancients, and chippy sceptics run a bus ad campaign along the lines of "God! Why give a toss?" The Zax
  • Score: 0

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