United Reform Church Big Day Out, Morecambe 'inspiring'
The United Reform Church has hailed their Big Day Out in Morecambe as a big success and hope to hold similar events in other Lancashire resorts.
Over 700 members of the church from throughout the north west spent a fun day of arts, worship and fellowship at four venues in the town.
The activities included a gospel magic show, pottery, a lunchtime organ concert and an impromptu choir.
There was also hymn writing to the tune of Bring Me Sunshine.
"Today is about inspiration and fun," said the Reverend Richard Church, North West Synod moderator of the United Reform Church. "And because people have fun in different ways we have put on a great menu of events."
The day wasn't just about the engaging the faithful. The church also wanted to be seen amongst the town's holiday makers and shoppers.
Looking out at the town's many visitors enjoying a gloriously sunny day on the resort's promenade, Richard Church said: "Here we are standing in the arena on the front at Morecambe and it's been great that the public have been wandering up and down and chatting to us.
"It is also about people getting to know us and our mission."
The Reverend Sarah Moore from the Darwen Churches Partnership agreed that being seen was nearly as important as having a good time: "What we have been trying to do is have activities going on in a public place. That is why we have built a marquee on the prom so that anyone who is passing by is welcome to wander in and join us."
She continued: "We could easily have met at a big church in the area or hired a school. We didn't want that. We felt very strongly that there should be a mission ministry to do what we do today."
Lay preacher Ernest Reynolds from Leyland United Reformed Church said he simply could not miss the opportunity to catch up with old friends. "Normally, I meet lots of people from the Leyland and Preston area," he said. "But today I have met people from Manchester and the Lake District who I haven't seen for a long time."
For him, the day was also about getting a feel for the future of the church: "I have been listening to the Secretary General of the United Reform Church and I found it quite inspiring to hear about where the church is going and the plans we have for the future."
'Understanding and fellowship'
Cameroon-born Bachelard Kaze is studying to become a URC minister and was making his first visit to Morecambe. He praised the ecumenical spirit of the day: "When I look at the people here I see peace, understanding and fellowship which are the heart of the church.
"I am amazed at the different churches that have come from right across the north. However, it feels that they have all come from the one single church and that is what it is about, all coming together as brothers and sisters in Christ."
As well as the specially-erected marquee on the promenade opposite the Winter Gardens, there were also events held in the Sefton Road and Central URC churches and the Bare Methodist Church.
It was at Bare, a few hundred yards north from the statue to the town's most famous son, that two teams were pitted against each other to write a hymn to the Morecambe and Wise signature tune of "Bring Me Sunshine."
Now the church says it wants to hold more events like this.
Moderator Richard Church said: "Our day has been a great success and we have been well looked after by the authorities in Morecambe. We would be happy to return to the town.
"However, we cover a large area of the north and have to make ourselves as widely available as possible. So, it could be that our next Big Day Out will be somewhere else in Lancashire."
Joe Wilson presents the faith programme on BBC Radio Lancashire from 06:00 each Sunday.