Susanne Martin quizzed the organisers and participants of the Pentecost 08 event set to take London by storm from 9th to 11th May
Every day the streets of London are busied with a diverse multitude of people who are working, shopping, sight-seeing, socialising and experiencing the quick-paced hustle and bustle of city life. This May the capital is not just going to be packed with the usual commuters, shoppers and tourists, but churches across the city are planning to bring the name of Jesus right into the heart of the commotion. Share Jesus International (SJI) presents the Pentecost 08, from the 9th to 11th May, as an opportunity to bring the Church out of the building and celebrate the diversity, identity, creativity and compassion of the Christian faith. Said SJI acting director Andy Frost, "People often see the Church as irrelevant, uninspiring and, frankly, dull. This is a chance to come and appreciate what the Church is really about." From dance to debate, and from live bands to comedy, the festival is set to grip London with its energetic activity. Said Andy Flannagan, Soul Survivor worship leader, "The world doesn't often get the chance to see the sacrifice, creativity and diversity of the Church. At Pentecost, it just might."
The weekend is geared up to be thriving with gospel-centred art, culture and entertainment, including live music events featuring some of the UK's best Christian talent, at the Astoria theatre and Regent's Hall. Four Kornerz, Philippa Hanna, The Gentlemen, The 29th Chapter, LZ7, Onehundredhours and Ben Cantelon are also joined by Statesiders Electric Church and Salvador to perform as part of the 10 big ticketed events. Worship singer/songwriter Graham Kendrick is also set to appear with author and speaker Tony Campolo. Northern Line venues from Waterloo to Camden will be holding free gigs with many more artists such as Glass Darkly, MC Tempo, Bosh and others.
With not long to go before the festival explodes onto the London streets, the performing acts are getting fired up to be a ministering musical force. Cross Rhythms asked some of the main artists how they hope their music will affect the Pentecost crowds.
Said Onehundredhours lead man Tre Sheppard, "The Hours are thrilled to be involved in the Pentecost festival and we hope that our message of hope for the streets, served up with a heavy dose of rock and roll, will encourage people to look outside of the church walls to the many living in darkness and despair, and be moved to action and service."
The weekend aims to be a real opportunity for the gospel to be heard by thousands of Londoners. Sheffield's rocking young lads who make up The Gentlemen, who are continually focused on reaching their teenage peers, said, "Our faith within ourselves and those supporting us and our music grows year on year. The Pentecost festival gives our group an opportunity to reach out with strength to the young teenagers that surround us."
Likewise, popular Christian music newcomer Philippa Hanna is ready to communicate the Gospel to her listeners. Said Philippa, "I feel God's given me a message about making fearless Christian music that isn't afraid to proclaim God and testify of Jesus in the mainstream. This music is for everyone. Many of contemporary music's biggest artists aren't afraid of being unconstructively controversial, so I want to present a similar boldness to share God's truth. I think God's turned me into an evangelist because when I play I always have my mind on the people present that don't know God. I really want to make music that an unbeliever can understand and feel God's pull on their heart. I want to be useful to the Church too - in reminding other Christians of God's power to change lives that seem unchangeable! Their friends might be staunch atheists, party animals, obsessed with other spiritual ideas, etc - but God can completely turn it all around at any point! He's just that good."
With a line-up of acts from a mixture of genres, the festival aims to be accessible to all in the diverse London population. Said Mr Prince from the UK hip-hop group The 29th Chapter, "Pentecost is an amazing opportunity for people of every age and social sphere to get involved in showing London the amazing diversity that we share in Jesus."
Mr Prince's fellow 29th Chapter member, Navigator, added, "Ultimately, it's the power behind the music that will truly affect the audience. The message our music carries is the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope that it brings. That is the power of God unto salvation and that is truly what will affect the audience."
Four Kornerz frontman Deji has a vision for May that mirrors the way the disciples connected with the crowds 2000 years ago. He said, "At the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit caused the disciples to speak in tongues and people from various ethnicities heard their own language being spoken! I'm hoping the same thing happens this year through our music. Our style draws from various genres and this festival is going to attract various groups/generations/cultures, so we want to be able to connect with each and every one of them just like the disciples did. Plus we get to headline at such a great venue alongside Salvador, Electric Church and Philippa Hanna! So it's definitely going to be a blast! Bring your earplugs!"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.