We bring you the lowdown on towns and cities across Britain to discover what is happening in the Christian music scene. This issue, Helen Knight reports on Derby.
Steeped in rich heritage and culture, Derby is the doorway to the breathtaking Peak District, home to a plethora of stately homes, peak trails and meandering rivers. Built on Roman and Saxon settlements, Derby's foundations are riddled with ancient ruins, monasteries and caves that give the city a distinct flavour of historic importance. If the natural is an indication of the spiritual then Derby is a pretty healthy city. Home to the giant Toyota plant, Rolls Royce and Crown Derby it has attracted further interest from the FA who want to develop a training ground for England just outside the city. Recently, Derbyshire's water mills along the Derwant River have been declared a World Heritage Site, a great recognition of the innovative industrial legacy of the area.
However, like every city, Derby is not without its problems. In June 2002, The Daily Mail named the central Hartington Street "Smack Street", after workmen found over 600 used syringes in one hour. Instead of fighting these battles in their own corner, the Derby churches have formed a unified front called City Vision, "The church of the city - many congregations, one body." The Growing In Power conference, a creation of City Vision, welcomed key speakers from the Argentine revival with a heart to see the same transformation in Derby. Youth celebrations, nighttime prayer walks and a huge worship event in the Market Place saw God touch many people for the first time.
Not only did 2002 celebrate the Queen's Jubilee, but the Diocese of Derby's 75th anniversary. To rejoice in style, Chatsworth House hosted the Party In The Park, with live performances from Adrian Plass, Mal Pope and the 'City Of Gold' team, to name but a few. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, brought a very thought provoking message and commended the city's churches for "[bringing] the needs and cultures of other countries...as well as celebrating their fellowship on a local level."
Music-wise Derby is still exploring its potential to create something stupendous. I won't beat around the bush...the city is seriously lacking the venues to showcase national artists let alone local talent. However, those of you who have listened to the 'City Of Gold' album would have experienced some of the anointed talent that the area has to offer. And hopefully, more is yet to come...
STYLE: Songwriter/Record producer
FACTS: Successful songwriter and producer, Phil is fondly remembered for being one half of the gone-but-not-forgotten pop gospel duo Phil & John. Together the twosome toured Britain, Europe and America and recorded at least eight albums. In 1997 Phil and John decided to move on to pastures new. Since then John Hartley has established himself as a record producer in Nashville and Phil Baggaley has been deeply involved with the launch of Gold Records. Adrian Plass's poem Heaven, and a songwriting session with Ian Blythe inspired the breathtaking concept album and on-stage presentation 'City Of Gold', which after five years is still going strong. Other projects include 'Road To The City' (2001), 'Shipwrecks And Islands' (1999) and 'Still Small Voices' (2000). Phil has been playing in bands since his early teens, but his faith and music finally came together when he began to work with Derby Youth For Christ at the age of 19.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: "More of the same really, to try and write and produce projects which are accessible to the wider world, yet somehow manage to touch people with the good news of Jesus. (Oh! and for Derby County to bounce straight back into the Premier League). I am working on a story telling/music project called 'The Fisherman Remembers' with Mal Pope and Eric Delve about the life of Simon Peter the disciple. We've nearly finished a solo project with Julie Costello entitled 'Lumiere' which is lovely! And I have been writing with and co-producing a girl called Esther Alexander who is amazingly talented! So lots to be getting on with!
ABOUT HIS MINISTRY: "Incredibly privileged to have been involved in something like 'City Of Gold'. When I write or think about these things, the challenge is not to stop until you've reached that place where you are being touched at a deep level with what you are creating. We live in a 'throwaway' world; as Christian writers or artists we should try to dig deeper than that. Sometimes you get there, sometimes you don't, but when you do, it's worth every bit of effort."
G-MAN (Hopeton Gordon)
FACTS: When G-Man left school he started his musical career as the drummer in a nine-piece band called Personal Touch. "Terry Christian [of The Word fame] wrote a review on Derby bands and said that our band was fantastic, only one problem...the drummer is rubbish!," laughs G. That was when he decided that playing in a live band was not for him. In 1986 his cousin asked G to join him on a show for BBC Radio Derby. 16 years later and G-Man has his own weekly show, playing gospel, R&B and soul music to the local area. Two years ago, guts and sheer cheek won him the job as TV host for an entertainment show called Drumbeat, a late night showcase of live music and topical discussion. Since 1990 G has deejayed the local pub and club scene, being the first in the city to bring a live Gospel set to the people.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: "Big things. Big, big, big things! I believe this is just a training ground. I don't want to just be in Derby. The Bible says go into all the world and I want the message to be heard and seen on a massive stage. So I don't mind doing some overtime!"
ABOUT HIS MINISTRY: "I try to show people that you may think Christians are boring, but hey, I am a Christian and I ain't boring, am I? I love music but it is not the beginning and the end. I am not here just to showcase what London is doing. I am here to showcase what is happening in the Midlands. My job is as an encourager. That's what I do...I encourage."
STYLE: Rock/Indie worship
LINE UP: Simon Moore (vocals, acoustic, electric guitar), Stuart White (guitar, E-bow, slide), Kevin Langley (bass), Debbie Moore (drums, percussion)
BACKGROUND: Some born, some bred, all are passionate about the city. Simon and his wife live on the troubled Hartington Street in the centre of Derby.
FACTS: The band have been playing together for just under four years having met and formed the worship band at Ozzy Road church. A prophetic vision of the energetic froth and foam of the sea gave the band their name. Last year was very hectic for the band. In June, Shore~ played in front of a crowd of 1500 people in Derby's Market Place, for the Growing In Power City Vision conference. There was a huge response from the Saturday nightclubbers including miraculous healings and young people coming to faith for the first time. Last October saw the release of their first album, 'River Of Life', and a live performance at the city's renowned venue, the Victoria Inn.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: "We have a lot of people from the local area who have a lot of problems, people on heroin, methadone, people with money problems, people with drink problems. Certainly to be in the heart of the city where we live is very exciting. The Hartington Street thing is really exciting, but it is a battleground," says Simon.
ABOUT THEIR MINISTRY: "The aim of Shore~ has always been to challenge people's pre-conceived ideas of what 'Christian music' sounds like. Our focus is worship. But when you say that people get set ideas about what we are about. So the music style is very much rooted in the secular with Christian lyrics."
LOCATION: Gold Records, PO Box 446, Derby, DE1 9HQ.
BACKGROUND: In 1995, frequent late-night conversations between Phil Baggaley, Adrian Plass and Dave Clifton gave birth to the idea of recording a Heaven-inspired musical presentation. Armed with a "rough demo" the team approached various publishers and record companies with the concept. However, it was a move away from the "norm" of Christian recordings and the project was declined. But with a clear vision for the album, the team decided to go it alone. Finally in 1997, Gold Records started with Neil Costello, Ken Fryer and Phil Baggaley on the team and 'City Of Gold' the album was in the shops.
FACTS: Gold Records have produced many other projects including 'Shipwrecks And Islands' (1999), 'Still Small Voice' (2000), 'Road To The City' (2001) and Gracenotes (2001) with singer/songwriter Sam Hill and poet Steve Stockman. They have just finished working on a brand new project entitled 'The Fisherman Remembers' which is a unique blend of storytelling and music about the life of Simon Peter. "The story is written and performed by Eric Delve with songs sung by Mal Pope. This is quite different from anything we have done before and we feel very excited about it," enthuses Julie Costello. The Gold team is also working on Julie's first solo venture, which will be called 'Lumiere' and is set for release in the summer, from which the song "There Is A Green Hill" has already been a success with CR.
ABOUT THEIR MINISTRY: Says Phil Baggaley, "[We] try and use the gifts and creativity God has given us to share our faith. One of my friends said, 'Music is a gift and not a commodity.'"
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: Recently there have been quite a few changes for Gold Records. "We have a number of new partners which has given us the opportunity to review the way we operate and bring a new business perspective to the company," explains Julie. In October 2002, Ken Fryer, Gold Records' administrator, moved to work in a church in the USA.
PSALMODY, CI FAMILY CHURCH and the STRATEGIC PRAYER SCHOOL
BACKGROUND: Jenny and Stephen Watson are both Burton-on-Trent
bred and were married in 1987. Jen worked for Youth For Christ from
1988 and Stephen joined her in 1991. From there they teamed up with
Psalmody International and on the 1st May 1994 they left Burton for a
new start in Birmingham. In August 1998, they were called back to
Burton to start a church in conjunction with CIE (Christian
International Europe) and in December 1999 Jenny and Stephen were both
ordained. June 2001 saw the birth of the Strategic Prayer School, and
June 2002, their limited company Selah Ministries started to import
products from Israel for sale in this country.
FACTS: Psalmody - In 1983, South African Tom Inglis received a vision to teach the nations the lifestyle of worship. 18 years and 10 international schools later, the course has been taught in over 40 countries and translated into 25 languages. Psalmody in Burton is the local branch of the international organisation with a vision to "raise a generation of worshippers" and to teach and develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of a worship lifestyle. The course consists of 13 lessons ranging from practical Bible teachings to a greater awareness of worship.
CI Family Church - CI Family Church is a network church of CI Europe. Their core values include equipping individuals and families to fulfill their purpose and destiny, raising up and releasing prophets to the marketplace and nations and teaching and preparing believers for revival and harvest. There is a strong emphasis of prophetic worship.
Strategic Prayer School - The vision behind the school is to create a place for strategic prayer for the Church, Burton-on-Trent, the Midlands region and the nations. Also to create a training base for intercessors, to equip and release them in their anointed gift.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: "What God is doing with us is fantastic. With the prayer school and with the prophetic, God wants us to develop resources that can actually go right around the world. We have a real passion at the moment because we have a sense of the urgency to transform the nations."
ABOUT THEIR MINISTRY: "Ministry is who we are and not just what we do. Real success is having a successor," says Stephen. "We are not just telling people that they are gifted, but giving them the opportunity to actually release their gifting," adds Jenny.
LOCATION: 48 Queen Street, Derby, DE
FACTS: This branch of the specialist retailer has deep roots in the city with the local studies library holding records of the shop, which go back to 1810. An inter-denominational committee ran it until 1982 when Scripture Union acquired the business. Wesley Owen finally took over the reigns in 1993, and currently employs three full time members of staff and three part time. The store is located opposite Derby Cathedral and attracts both Christian and non-Christian customers alike. It has a wonderful welcoming atmosphere and is a place where people often just visit for a chat with the staff, never mind make a purchase. The Alpha material has been consistent bestsellers with others including the Prayer Of Jabez, and the classic, What 's So Amazing About Grace. Musically speaking Wesley Owen, Derby actively supports local artists by promoting their productions and organizing concerts. They will be promoting the latest Roger Jones musical at the Assembly Rooms.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: "Our only hope for the shop is that it remains solvent despite the economically uncertain times and that we are able to continue and indeed expand our Christian witness in the high street and our equipping of the church for its mission of promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ," enthuses Peter Goddard.
ABOUT THEIR MINISTRY: "The aim of all the Wesley Owen bookshops is to 'advance the Christian faith through retailing.' To all our current staff, the shop is entirely a place of spiritual ministry. Consequently our work is founded on shared times of prayer, devotion and Christian fellowship! It's this which keeps us cheerful when things get hectic and stressful - which they frequently do!"
CORNERSTONE CHRISTIAN BOOKSHOP
LOCATION: 2 Dale Road, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3LT
FACTS: The shop was established in Matlock 15 years ago by Trinity Bookshop Trust with a view to provide Christian resources to local churches, local people and to be a meeting place for those in need. It is staffed by 12 volunteers of all denominations and has an ongoing outreach and listening ministry. The bookshop was originally based in small premises, which were not positioned in a visible place. However, as a result of an increase in the number of new age and occult shops in the area, God's plan for the shop involved a move to its current prominent position in the High Street. The shop stocks Christian literature, music, gifts and cards and attracts local Christians and many tourists who visit the area.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: "We want the whole building to be better used and we want it to be an oasis for Christians and non-Christians alike. We just want the love and presence of Christ to transform the community, and we want to be there where people can find us to see what is on offer in a non-pressured way."
ABOUT THEIR MINISTRY: "There has been a lot of prayer around it and it is amazing how people come and browse in the shop. The people going to the new age shop have got to pass our window to get there, and we do get them back into our shop because what they have been given is not working. We have had some really God-appointed meetings. So that has kept us in the ministry vein and in the shop vein," says Bernice Smith.