On the Sunday of my first Priddy Folk Festival seven years ago, the church bells rang out at 9am waking many of the campers in the field next to the church, and the church’s usual Holy Communion Service followed half an hour later, attended by some parishioners but by only a handful of festival goers. Seven years later, St Laurence Church is a venue for many different concerts and activities throughout the weekend, and the Sunday morning ‘Priddy Folk Festival Family Service’ holds a welcome place in the festival programme.
The Somerset Russets Band fill the chancel playing old and new hymns with a folk-song tune, the worship uses Iona liturgy and in the sermon slot the whole congregation find themselves included in an enactment of the Gospel reading – there are so may new insights when we see as well as hear! And the church is full.
Some of the congregation are Christians from different churches all over the country, glad to find a service that resonates with their love of folk culture and music; but some who come, and they come year after year now, are people on the fringe of faith or church, who tell me that this is a service where they find welcome, enjoyment and inspiration.