“It’s singing the pop songs”, grins Pete Marsland, ex-copper, financial services guru and Reader at York’s Holy Trinity Church, Micklegate, asked what’s the best thing about the monthly ‘Pop Church’ he leads in an upper room at Brigantes, a bar and brasserie opposite the church.

The fifth meeting’s approaching fast and Pete waves a poster that offers ‘A Service of Contemporary Music and Refection’.

Refection? Yes, refection – it’s what you do in a refectory – or in this case in a pub – you partake of refreshment.

Pete sees it as reaching out to people who pass by the city-centre church every day: “Popular music can reach huge numbers.”

“The whole thing takes 30 to 45 minutes,” he explains, “and so far it’s been based around a Service of the Word from Common Worship.

“After an introduction we have a profession of faith, a short piece of scripture from the Lectionary, around ten minutes of chat about faith and music, some bidding prayers, the Lord’s Prayer and close.

“And there are three songs – I look for key words in the readings and see what would tie in, and then the pub’s performing Rights licence covers everything.

The idea’s been brewing in Pete’s mind since about 2011 while he was in Reader training, and his Ministerial Development Review in January 2017 opened the chance to give it a go.

“Eleven people came last time – some from Fulford and Osbaldwick, and some Baptists too – and aged from late twenties to early eighties.

“A lot of pop lyricists have grown up with a faith background and you can cross-interpret some of the words into Bible stories.

“We’re inviting people to a worship occasion where they’re really invited to participate – and part of the service is open to anyone – and no-one’s going to feel they’re in a dark cold building singing dreary hymns until they lose the will to live!”

  • The 24th September meeting includes a chance to join in with Elton John’s “I’m still standing” (see Matthew 20 v6), “I want it that way” by the Backstreet Boys (see Matthew 20 v15), and uniquely on this occasion there’s a song in Swahili sung live by Sister Debora, visiting from Africa as part of Holy Trinity’s links there.
  • For future service details please see the Holy Trinity web site at www.holytrinityyork.org.

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