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Thursday, May 10, 2007


Hi. Too late really to comment on this thread and unseemly whooping, but hey, I'm on holiday!

In places of worship we develop and perpetuate responses to the place that are partly cognitive (beliefs about it), partly emotive (often based on long chains of association with the place and the people in it), and partly to do with what behaviours we asociate with it and feel comfortable with in it. We cheer and shout at referees at football matches , we whisper in libraries.

My limited experience of Baptist Assembly is that its setting is like a combination of a theatre and a party conference. Applause seems more appropriate than in church because of the setting. Also there's less inhibition about appropriate behaviours because there's less form to go on, and even if you classed it as church or sacred space, different people have different responses to that notion. Sacred space is often contested space.

Conclusion: accept that people will behave differently? "Whoop with those who whoop, rejoice with those who rejoice"? (And nod reverently with those who do that instead).

Hi Sean,

I was part of the worship team this year and also involved with the planning for the sessions.

I'd appreciate any feedback you could give on what you thought about the sessions? how you might do them differently? what you'd like to see more/less of?

Trying to get a broader perspective from other people to feed in to my feedback for the weekend.



on a different tack, sean what would you do with the evening sessions differently?

Migrant workers sleeping 8 to a room.
Women being paid £10 a week to pick daffodils.

And we debate one person's opinion on one bit of a liturgy.

Wonder what God makes of it all...

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner

The problem with whooping and cheering seems to have developed in the last few years; largely as a result of the head of ministry telling people not to applaud! 1500 people want to respond in a manner that signals affirmation and support and the recent desire to create silence in order that the process of recogniton can be speeded up feels unnatural. The result is that groups of people ignor the instruction. The more 'natural' way to include a moment of solmenity is to bring the people up on stage as their names are announced (and applauded) and once they have all been given their handshake to include a short item of liturgy and a moment of prayer for God's blessing. (This moving people around the room so that people can stretch out a hand to pray does my head in! As do a number of other things about assembly, but I'll start to rant if I say anymore).

I now feel marginally guilty that the North West Leicestershire cluster people were the first to cheer (from Dibley+6).

Points two and three I definitely concur with. Point one seems to lean to a more general question about appropriate ways of behaving - we don't applaud sermons on Sunday but we do at Assembly (why?); most of us don't applaud at the end of songs/hymns in church but at Assembly lots of people do (though I'm not sure why they do), etc.

So, apologies for NWL bad behaviour. While I'd still maintain the whooping in PRISM was healthy, I think you are right that there is also a place for sobriety/solemnity that is being eroded. Maybe its partly about times & places and partly about our owm preferences?

Hi Graham
I think three things: first, that there should be an appropriate solemnity to the event; second, that it feels a little unfair to those who don't have a contingent of supporters there; third, when the head of Ministry politely asks people not to clap individuals, I am not sure that he means to invite them to wave flags and cheer instead. I am not sure you can do anything to stop it, but I wonder whether as year gives way to year, the expressions of support might not get increasingly, how to say it?, raucous. In the end, I think that in Assembly we are also in church, and that there is an appropriate order that should follow.

What do you find unseemly about the whooping and cheering?

Thank you.

Yes, we are a funny lot and yes, Assembly has its warts as well as its wonders - but as you so rightly say it is good to be a British Baptist.

Yours, suitably, soberly...

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