*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Playing God

12 September 2014

EVEN bishops wear haloes and play God on occasion. That is what the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, did in the small Norfolk village of Bergh Apton, when he took part in a new cycle of Mystery plays. Mind you, at other performances, the divine halo was worn by a retired child-carer, an Anglican priest, a young Sainsbury's manager; a Roman Catholic bishop, and a Methodist superintendent.

The four plays had been written by Hugh Lupton, commissioned by the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust, and were performed over three weekends. Most of the 60 members of the cast, drawn from the 12 villages that make up the Bremerton group of churches, had never acted before, "but quickly developed into a pulsating troupe under the guiding eye of professional director David Farmer", my correspondent, Christopher Meynell, writes.

The plays used contemporary themes linked by the symbol of the Legend of the Rood, and ingeniously weaving in Bible stories from the Garden of Eden to the crucifixion. The climax was the flowering of the cross, symbolising the resurrection.

It so impressed Bishop James that he told the House of Lords about it in a debate about English parish churches - incidentally mentioning that the Pharaoh looked like Boris Johnson. "I had a part," he said. "I was cast as God - typecast, I suppose. It was an extraordinary cultural event, set in and around the parish church, drawing the community together: creative, empowering, spiritual, human, educational, and entertaining. It was the English parish church doing its job."

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)