The NE:ONE youth event was held at the Newcastle Telewest Arena with Delirious? The World Wide Message Tribe and Yfriday on the bill. Tony Cummings reported.
Biggest is not always best but few Christian music buffs would argue that the ne:one event in Newcastle on 3rd March has all the makings of a stupendous day of musical evangelism. The history of the event to be held at the Newcastle Telewest Arena actually goes back to more humble beginnings to 1994. Then Tyneside Youth For Christ put on a alternative youth service called Why Friday? in a small church, Acorn Christian Fellowship, in Whitley Bay. "We called it Why Friday? as it carried an evangelistic thrust (why Good Friday?) and was a service on a Friday," explained Phil Glover, the director of YFC in the North East and the administrator of ne:one. "After a few months we decided to trial it on a Sunday. The difference was staggering, as more came along and worship regularly 'took off'. By mid '96 we were bursting at the seams of the 200 seated venue and had to move out, holding the event at wherever would have us. Why Friday? took another big step forward through a youth mission run on the back of the event called Wake Up & Dream. This was held in November '97 for three nights at the Newcastle City Hall (2,000 seater) with Delirious? and Dr Tony Campolo. 5,000 young people from the north of England and Scotland came and there was a lot of response to the Gospel. This put Why Friday? on the map which meant that we could take a giant leap to hold the monthly events at the City Hall."
It was the house band to the Why Friday? event which was to eventually catch the attention of the national Christian music audience. Phil Glover explained, "Quite early in the life of Why Friday? We invited an up and coming local worship leader, Ken Riley, to lead the band. As the band took on a new shape they started to get invites to do a lot outside of the monthly events. As this continued to build it became clear that there should be a change of name somewhere as they were referred to as The Why Friday Band. It was at this point that Why Friday? became IXth Hour, leaving the worship band to take on the identity Yfriday."
Since the release of their 'Rainmaker' album Yfriday have toured extensively. They still keep, however, close contact with the event that birthed them.
Said the band's leader Ken Riley, "There are hundreds of young people becoming Christians through this event, to the point that we are seeing a social impact among schools in the area. Ne:one will be held in the Newcastle arena where you get Robbie Williams etc playing, and seems to be the next progression as it affirms what God is doing in the area and also makes an even bigger splash than normal. The spiritual climate amongst young people is changing. We wouldn't say that people are falling over in the streets of Newcastle or anything but there is a vibe amongst those who come. They have such confidence to bring along their unsaved friends 'cos it's a happening event, totally cringe free, and it's amazing to see them come along and get saved! This isn't a band thing but a God thing so the foundation is so solid."
Phil Glover explained how the leap of faith to launch ne:one was made, "The vision for ne:one has developed over the past 18 months; partly inspired by YFC's involvement in an all age millennium celebration at the 10,000 seater Newcastle Telewest Arena back in November '99. We have for a long time had the dream of holding the IXth Hour event at the Newcastle Arena, but knowing that we'd need the help of top Christian bands. We felt that Delirious? and the World Wide Message Tribe would fit the bill nicely, particularly as we have worked well with them in the past and they also have a drive to impact young people with the Gospel.
"Ne:one will be the largest 'Christian' youth event ever to take place in the north east of England. Our hope is that a significant proportion who come will be young people who don't usually get involved with church, something for Christians to bring their friends to and for youth/church/student leaders to use as an quality 'outreach' event. Already 200 churches have requested ne:one youth leader packs; our hope is that somewhere in the region of 300 churches will get involved. During the weeks leading up to ne:one YFC's rap and theatre company will also run a number of high school missions in the region."
There will be three distinct parts to the ne:one programme which will run from 3pm-10pm. "The programme is still being finalised, but it's likely that the WWMT will kick it off alongside Andy Hawthorne" explained Phil. The IXth Hour programme with Yfriday and Dependance will run into the early evening before Delirious? conclude the day with a 90 minute gig. During the change round of bands there will be lots to look at including locations available for people to chat about what they've experienced or heard. It's not our intention that Christ is 'pushed down people's throats' but that they have one amazing taste of God's feelings towards them."
Ne:one is being sponsored by three charities: Clarence Trust, Harvest and Tyneside YFC. Harvest is a youth camp/festival involving Soul Survivor held in Co Durham each August bank holiday. "We hope through ne:one we can give a higher profile to Harvest. At present we get 750 young people to the monthly IXth Hour youth event at the Newcastle City Hall. This event continues to grow steadily but we'd like to see a growth spurt through its profile at ne:one. Following on from ne:one we'd love to see a national youth prayer event at the Newcastle Arena. Newcastle is England's most northern city and would be a great location to pray for revival amongst young people from the top of the country to the bottom. We'll wait to see how March 3rd goes first though."
Ken Riley of Yfriday is confident that ne:one will produce a harvest but knows that the Gospel message must be communicated without compromise. "Today's youth are sharp and switched on, and what they will not stand is compromised people talking a compromised Gospel. The simple truth about Jesus is often enough. You know there's a lot of hurting people who need love, there's a lot of bound people who need to be freed, and everyone is looking for something dependable and true. There is something extremely attractive about the personality of Jesus and all we have to do is present this in a relevant way that they can identify with. The pressures are huge to sleep around, drink, do drugs and that's not just amongst non-Christians, so let's be real, let's be honest and tell it like it is."
The thousands of young people of the Telewest Arena will be experiencing DELIRIOUS? in full flow. We caught up with the band in the USA and pitched them a few questions.
You are playing at the ne:one event in Newcastle on 3rd March.
This is a HUGE initiative for Newcastle with potentially up to 10,000
people attending. What does Newcastle mean to the band? Have you
played there previously?
Yes we have played in Newcastle five or six times, including the Newcastle University and City Hall. Our lighting designer supports Newcastle United FC and used to live there, he insists we make an annual visit. We are also really excited about the vision behind the event and look forward to what promises to be a great day.
Newcastle has produced an excellent new band in Yfriday Have
you ever seen them play?
No, but we have met the guys and we can't wait to hear them play.
What's been the response to your 'Glo' album so
We've had an amazing response to the album worldwide, it's been the best selling Christian album in many countries, and whilst record sales are not the important factor, it is an indication to how the songs are beginning to impact the Church.