Tag Archives: Rockmass

Thatcham Rockmass 8

Tonight a group of seven of us from St James went to Rockmass number 8 at Thatcham. Amongst our number were several people who had never experienced Rockmass before, including Rev Richard. We have on a number of occasions tried to ‘explain’ Rockmass to Richard, but I guess tonight is proof that you can’t really explain it, and the only thing to do is experience it for yourself.

Also there tonight, as the ‘star turn’ so to speak, was Ian MacDonald, the Diocesan Youth Officer. You can get the view from his side on Youthblog, but from ours it was a great talk. As Ian said to us before the service, Rockmass is a difficult congregation as there is a really broad mix of ‘young people’ – although Rockmass is usually thought to be the kind of service aimed at young people, the reality seems to be somewhat different, with a broad range of ages coming along.

Anyway, as this was Christ the King Sunday, Ian used the example of the third Lord of the Rings movie, Return of the King, to explain the meaning of the festival. He also managed to include that one of the reasons he likes Rockmass is because it is so loud nobody can hear how badly he sings, and also a really rather funny story about Colin the Fireman at Bristol Airport. Certainly it kept our interest throughout the whole talk, had some laughs, but ultimately a good message at the end.

Surrounding all of this was the usual selection of quality music, the band sounding better than ever. As at previous events there was a good mix of songs that were new, together with ones that we knew from previous visits – although two of the new numbers – the Rockmass style Christmas carols did leave some people somewhat stunned I think! They also expanded on the use of more secular numbers started last time with Lean on Me, adding in What if God was One of Us? – Ian has linked to lyrics of both songs over on his blog. As Ian comments, the use of mainstream songs is quite a brave move, and as last time has left me thinking about which other tracks could work in a religious setting.

Anyway, I diverge – all the people we took along said they enjoyed themselves, and I think Rev Richard went away with some new ideas. As he said as we left, he’s seen everything today, from a BCP 8am service, through our new Family Service at 9:30am, through to this, almost two hours of loud rock music, but surrounding a perfectly straight Eucharist. Incidentally, apologies for the lack of pictures this time – I only had the mobile phone camera with me, and with all the electronics around, we were asked to turn phones off. However, there are pictures of what it is like over at the Rockmass site.

Rocking the Church

View Down the Church

Tonight we held our second youth service at St James since Rev Richard arrived. This time we had a different band, a third of which was actually home grown talent, plus we actually described it as a Rockmass.

We used the same layout with the band in the chancel, and celebrating on a small table in front. We also used our soon to be patented projector mount of a MDF board and two C-clamps to provide a shelf for the projector in the arch into the north aisle, projecting across onto the screen in the pulpit. The laptop that drives the projector is then positioned up in the chancel so that the person working the screen is close to the people leading.

Matt Doing a Sound Check

We were up at the church from about 3:30pm, and got all of our gear set up first before the inevitable chaos when the band arrives. In this case we had got together with the local Baptist Church, and the band consisted of Matt Valler, the youth worker at the Baptist church, his brother, and Richard from our Church as drummer. Matt knows our church pretty well having attended the youth group when he was a teenager.

As with anything involving a live band there is a good deal of fiddling around to make sure sound is good, and ensure that everything works. However we were all ready to go in good time.

Matt Doing Some Practice

As an aside just before the service I had a slightly strange encounter. Whilst I was walking back to the Church from the Parish Centre, a white van with all sorts of strange things on the roof drove into the car park, and parked – pretty badly, and the two guys in the front got out and went into the back. It looked to me like a TV detector van, so I walked over to ask them to park a bit better as we were expecting cars in the car park for the service. Anyway, I put my head round the door, and one of the people in the van was John Redwood. They asked if they could stay and I said not to worry, just that we needed space to get round the car park. Having said that Rev Richard went and had a chat when he arrived and suggested that if they wanted quiet (it was actually a radio van) they might be better going elsewhere before all the young people arrived.

The service went well, and we even had Ian, the Diocesan Youth Adviser for part of the service, who seemed to have met almost everybody involved having led a youth camp that Matt and Richard had attended! Matt did the talk, and Beth did the prayers, using a ‘prayer basket’ idea where a symbol is brought up for each prayer, for example a mobile phone was brought up when we prayed for friends. The band were great, and we even had some of our Youth Group sing a song during communion to give the band a break.

Clearing Up

To some extent it was a learning experience for all as our Youth Group aren’t used to having a band, and also the Baptist Youth Group aren’t used to our comparitively formal litugical structure for the service. Having said that we got good feedback from both groups after the service, and certainly we are looking at trying to do something similar again in the autumn. As we said afterwards, each of the three Finchampstead Churches can’t put something like this together on their own, but by pooling resources we can pull it off. Certainly it has given us a good place to start.

Anyway, after all the young people had gone, one thing left, clearing up – the downside with having a band!