BELIEVE it or not, the figure on the right is the Bishop of
Sherborne, Dr Graham Kings (right), who, dressed in a sumo
suit, gave a sound 3-1 beating to his Free Church opponent, the
Revd Paul White. This was at the Refresh 2012 Beach Festival in
Weymouth, Salisbury diocese, when Churches
Together in Weymouth laid on the four-day event, despite bad
weather on three of the days.
The sporting Bishop had already had
his face painted with the Olympic rings, and had been taught to
skateboard by some young people in exchange for teaching them how
to flick a Frisbee round a tree. He then went on to do some limbo
dancing. And all that was after the Sunday service on the beach,
attended by 2000 people.
It was the highlight of the festival -
fortunately on the one sunny day - with music led by the rock band
Evergreen. Sadly, the rain diminished the crowds to a few hundred
on each of the other three days, and people had to shelter in
tents. But there was a large tented play-area for children, with
face-painting, circus skills, balloon-modelling, and bouncy
Adults were offered the more soothing
services of foot massage and herbal teas. And there was plenty of
live music, including the clergy rock-band Dogs Without Collars. Dr
Kings said: "It was an extraordinary Christian festival on the
beach: the direct outcome of long-term relationships across the
Refresh 2012 had been timed to take
place between the Olympics and the Paralympics, but earlier, during
the Olympic Games, the churches had offered to come to the rescue
of the failing commercial Weymouth Bayside Festival, when poor
attendance forced the organisers into liquidation.
The diocesan Olympic co-ordinator, the
Revd Anni Douglas, says that they sent volunteers round the site to
see how people felt, and Churches Together immediately offered a
force of 300 volunteers to run the site and keep it going. Another
commercial company was able to come to the rescue, however; so the
offer of help was not necessary.
Nevertheless, "the impressive
response", Dr Kings said, was "a classic example of the way
churches can offer practical help".