In our regular series we bring the lowdown on cities across Britain to discover what is happening in the Christian music scene. This issue Kelly Smith reports on BELFAST.
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STYLE Eddie has been in the process of
broadening his style to take into account the worship invitations he has been receiving
over the last couple of years. He does everything from humorous singalongs, old
time hymns/ gospel songs, rock, ballads, country, worship and solo.
BACKGROUND A young starter at the age of only 15 Eddie Spence began singing semi-professionally in the pubs and clubs of Belfast. It all began in the summer of 1970 when the troubles in Northern Ireland had just kicked off and continued for 20 years on and off in the secular circuit. In 1989 Eddie was seriously convicted of his sin before God and while lying in the bath accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord and was instantly transformed by the Spirit of God. Eddie later described the experience, "The profound sense of peace and yet rapturous joy that came upon me at that moment was overwhelming... Only for the fact that I was naked I would have jumped out of that bath and ran down the street shouting, 'Hallelujah I'm saved'." After three years at Belfast Bible College Eddie was encouraged by other Christians to consider singing gospel music and after much prayer he did just this and soon the invitations from all over Ireland, Eastern Europe and Alaska started pouring in, so gaining him a reputation on the national and international music scene. He has recorded several albums which have been distributed to over 24 countries. Unfortunately in 1996 Eddie developed Tetzies Disease and had to withdraw from the music scene for nearly three years, however in that time began to work for the Presbyterian Church in a hostel helping to re-establish, re-house and rehabilitate offenders caught up in the criminal justice system back into the community. Again illness took its toll and Eddie had to quit work and now uses his spare time to sing and write gospel songs.
ABOUT HIS MINISTRY Eddie has an unquenchable desire to use his vocal talents to tell the good news that Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
LOCATION Spiers, Church House, Fisherwick Place, Belfast BT1 6DW
FACTS Family Books is the bookshop of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and has been established for over 100 years. It seeks to serve the broad Christian community in Northern Ireland and sees itself as quartermaster to promote the Gospel through the province. It provides all kinds of resources to suit the Church and especially serves tools for ministers and students. There is a large youth ministry associated with Family Books and also provision of tools for Sunday school and children's work is central to the functioning of this large bookstore. There are two shop units that make up Family Books and instore a huge Christian music collection can be found.
ABOUT THE MINISTRY Betty Bell "Our aim is to serve the broad Christian community in Northern Ireland and to reach out to the general public."
BELMONT CHRISTIAN BOOK CENTRE
LOCATION 49 Belmont Road, Belfast BT4 2AA
FACTS This bookshop started out as an upstairs outlet but has since moved to bigger downstairs premises. Essentially run by husband and wife this small bookshop serves the east Belfast locality.
ABOUT THE MINISTRY Says owner Andrew Poots "We serve the needs of the local community in the east Belfast locality and offer a friendly service."
LOCATION 15 College Square East, Belfast BT1 6DD
BACKGROUND This bookstore was formed way back in 1926 and is still located on the same premises as it was back then. Celebrating its 75th anniversary just recently the Evangelical Bookshop continues to operate as a charity. Home to a collection of adult oriented CDs and cassettes and tools for aiding in Sunday school work this shop is more on the conservative side of Christian music.
ABOUT THE MINISTRY John Grier "This shop was formed in 1926 and continues to serve a broad spectrum of consumers."
FAITH MISSION BOOKSHOPS
LOCATION 5 - 7 Queens Street, Belfast BT1 6EA
BACKGROUND Faith Mission is an evangelical outreach in rural areas with its headquarters being located in Scotland. Faith Mission Bookshops serve as the "literature arm" of the ministry, says assistant manager at the Queens Street branch of the store.
ABOUT THE MINISTRY Mark Conroy "We store a large variety of contemporary, traditional and praise and worship music. We stock all the latest releases right through the spectrum and have one of the widest ranges of Christian music available today."
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