Hope Theatre Café - update Jun09

Monday, 1 June, 2009

Alicia Baker asks Darren and Anne Middleton how Hope Theatre Café began.

Duration: 3:23   | Download Download mp3


Introducer: When a congregation in South Wales realised that the majority of locals didn't want to come along to regular Sunday services, they decided to do something about it. And now at Christchurch Methodist and URC church in Cardiff there's a growing community of Christians and spiritual seekers who simply enjoy the performing arts together. Alicia Baker went along to the Hope Theatre Café and met Darren and Anne Middleton and asked how a church building could become a theatre.

Anne Middleton: The church is transformed. So we set the church out café style and basically every month is something completely different, so we've had theatre companies, we've had… we've got a singer tonight, we've got a flautist next month, but they're a Christian performer and they share their faith through their music or their drama or their poetry or whatever they do.

Interviewer: Tell me then, why the performing arts?

Darren Middleton: Well I think with mission it's all about location, and it's to do with who you are in the context in which you're in. And both Anne and I have theatre backgrounds before we came into ministry.

Female voice 1: A friend of ours came a couple of weeks ago who had parents who were ministers, but she'd… for years she'd sort of been away from the faith.

Male voice 1: I come here recently with the youth club because it's a fun evening and I just think it's great.

Female voice 2: I didn't know what to expect, you know, and then of course they started talking about the Bible and different things and I thought oh… I mean I used to go to church but I don't, now, any more. And I thought oh, am I going to like it or not. But no, it is, it's very good. It is, it's very good.

Anne Middleton: I know for me as a writer and actor I find it much easier to share my story and my faith through drama, through performance. And there's something about drama, music, the arts that can reach people in a way that maybe – sorry darling – but maybe sometimes a sermon can't. And if people also aren't wanting to come to church on a Sunday then yeah, great, come and hear the message in a non-threatening way and in a, you know, hopefully really inspiring way.

Female voice 1: I think God is moving and there is something happening here that I think is a move of God, and I think what surprised me I think is the diversity of things that are happening here, but also the fact that it's helping people to come together as church in a very different way.

Darren Middleton: The people here have really united around this vision and what's happened is, is that we've come together as a team, so working it as a team. So it's not just about one or two people, it's about the church really catching the vision of mission and doing mission in the community. And what's wonderful is, is that we're getting 50% of our audiences are actually from the community and not from the church community. It's increased the sense of family and the bonding, so it's been a really great thing for this church.

It's something that you can invite people to that's not necessarily 'churchy'. We're about bringing people to Jesus Christ and that's the message of the gospel.

Introducer: Darren Middleton. And if you'd like to find out more about the Hope Theatre Café, just visit our website, that's freshexpressions.org.uk.

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