Bible Storytelling by The Backyard Bards at CMS Summer Under the Son
Church Missionary Society Summer Conference
I have just returned home from the CMS 'Summer Under the Son' Conference. The weather wasn't wonderful, ranging from what was very cold for summer to a scorching 35C degrees, but the Conference was just great. It was held in the very extensive and beautiful Adventure Resort near the town of Cowes on Phillip Island, and extended over six days.
There were groups for three to four year olds, for primary age children, for high schoolers, for young adults, for aspiring youth leaders, there was even a creche, and, of course, there were the sessions in the main auditorium for the adults. I saw some of the former groups enjoying music, great activities and games, learning about Bible stories and meeting missionaries from around the world.
Every morning, the adults' sessions began with prayer, singing rousing songs with a six person band that nearly raised the roof, and a Bible Study led by the Revd. Dr. Peter Adam, Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne. Keynote speakers included Bishop Mouneer Anis, of Egypt, Dr. Lindsay Brown, International Director of the Lausanne Movement and former General Secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, and a number of missionaries.
The Bards: Bible Storytelling
The Bible Studies were based on the Old Testament Book of Esther and were introduced each morning by a most professional 'reading' of the chapters of Esther that were to be examined that day and led most ably by the Revd Dr. Peter Adam. These studies were interesting, enlightening, sometimes humorous and entertaining, but never dull.
However, we soon found that the reading was not a reading as such at all, but a Bible Storytelling by three actors, members of The Backyard Bard, a Christian theatre company from Melbourne. The Bards had memorised the whole of Esther and acted out the relevant chapters in a powerfully dramatic way. As we were swept up in the emotions they portrayed, they became ours, too. The presentation was deeply impressive and became one of the highlights of each day for us. The actors really made the word of God come alive.
My friends and I had not heard of the Backyard Bard before and were eager to learn more. We discovered that the members belong to an Australian theatre company whose actors are dedicated to helping people to engage with God's Word. They really help their audiences to connect with the Bible stories, committing whole Books of the Bible to memory and sharing them with a passion that is quite infectious.
Members of The Backyard Bard can be invited to perform at many different types of Christian events, such as Conferences, youth events, church services, even at weddings. They hold workshops, seminars and one-day courses in both Biblical Storytelling and in Public Bible Reading. The last mentioned is very helpful for people who regularly read the Bible in church and want to improve their skills. The actors' presentations are especially popular at Christmas and Easter.
Each year this Christian theatre company have major productions in which they present a large section of Biblical narrative at events hosted by churches, high schools and university groups right across Australia.
Pray that more people will become involved, as this is a great and God-led venture.
Secularisation and Pluralism
The talks and interviews each day with missionaries were inspiring, as were the many less formal groups on offer in the afternoon. The ones I found most interesting were three presentations and discussions on Secularisation, Desecularisation and Pluralism.
I think that sometimes we do go around with our heads in the sand and there is so much happening spiritually in many countries around the world. We need to attend conferences like this to be awakened and made aware, to learn, to be inspired, and to have our 'batteries recharged.'
CMS is to be congratulated on the great results of what must have been months of planning by quite a number of people.
The Bible and Christianity
- Forgiveness and Spiritual Health
The article defines, looks at and compares forgiveness in the Old Testament and the New Testament. When we do wrong we must ask for and accept God's forgiveness, forgive those who wrong us and forgive ourselves if we are to attain spiritual health.
- Communication in a Changing World
Distance communication began in prehistoric times and some of these methods have continued almost until present times. Communication developed slowly over the centuries, but more recently, perhaps beginning with the printing press it has escalated.
- How Can We Keep Sundays Holy?
The Fourth Commandment tells us to take a day of rest, but we rarely seem to find time to do this. Rest is as important for our spiritual and physical well-being as rests are in music as they contribute to the harmony.
- Billy Graham's Australian Crusades 1959
1959 heralded a change in the life of our family, but that year also brought the Billy Graham Crusade to Australia for the first time. It was the catalyst for change for many Australians as they made a commitment to give their lives to Jesus.
- Three or Four Leafed Clover
The word 'luck' has been around for a long time and we often use it. Many people have good luck charms or a four-leaf clover, but St. Patrick used a three-leaf shamrock to teach the Irish about the Trinity. Christians should rely on God, not luck.
- How to Say Grace
We should know the difference between prayers before meals and saying grace. Grace before meals is a very old tradition and the article looks at the genre and some of its history, concluding that Christians should always thank God for our food.
- A Meditation on Psalm 32 - Taizé Style
A meditation for Lent that combines Psalm 32, prose and poetry. When we pray to be forgiven God cleanses us from sin and surrounds us with His love now and for all eternity.