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Bible Storytelling by The Backyard Bards at CMS Summer Under the Son

Updated on January 24, 2013
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Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

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.

Backyard Bards in Action
Backyard Bards in Action | Source

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.


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    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Deborah Brooks: Yes, they were so good and it really was such a good idea as it makes the stories come alive. I'm not sure if I could remember so much to try and do it, too, but I certainly appreciated it. Thank you for your vote.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Wow..I would be have loved to have been there to see the actors acting out the book of ester....that is a great idea...I studied the book of ester with you beth moore series...great hub...voted up..debbie

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Yes, it would be so good if some church community groups like this could start up. The girls' club at our church learn and recite like a choir whole chapters - it's most impressive. I love your idea of acting out Bible stories with your children. When I was young it was so easy to learn things by heart, but it seems to be much harder now I'm older.

    • indanila profile image

      Inda Blackwell 6 years ago from Hampton Roads

      This is very interesting! My husband and I recently decided to have a weekly family devotional time. I wanted a way to make it interesting to the little ones and the preteens as well. I thought acting out some scenes from the Bible was a great idea. I wish there was something like this going on here locally. Nice hub!!!