Tewkesbury Abbey and Tewkesbury Churches Together, by the Revd Wendy Ruffle
Tewkesbury is host to one of the largest battle re-enactments in Europe, where the Yorkists and Lancastrians come together annually to do battle at the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury. Not just is it a wonderful gathering of re-enactor enthusiasts and visitors from all over the world, it’s one of the largest gatherings of our local community in the year.
Apart from a ‘rest year’ two years ago, the Abbey and Tewkesbury Churches Together have mobilised over the last five years in July to take part in the Festival in a number of ways. Firstly by having a marquee that houses a mock-medieval chapel offering hospitality, healing prayer and just somewhere for visitors to take a breather; together with a section with free faith-oriented, medieval- style, craft for families and Bible story telling. New last year, we trialed Jesus Deck for the first time and were blown away by all that Christ did through this ministry.
Alongside the marquee, Tewkesbury Abbey hold its Sunday 9.15am service outside on the battle site where its usual congregation come together with an increasing number of the re-enactors to worship together. The Abbey, itself involuntarily drawn into the ‘activities’ around the battle in 1471, also have a Compline service on the Saturday evening to which many hundreds of re-enactors attend. We worship and pray together for the re-enactors who have died during the past year. With the men of the Abbey choir chanting and dressed in Benedictine monk’s habits, it is a special and contextual time of worship.
The Abbey 11am congregation are also planning to take part this summer with the Choir and Abbey members joining the annual Parade which occurs at this particular time – a great way to reach out with courageous worship directly into our community!
We are looking forward to all that Christ will do this summer!
To find out more about using the Jesus Deck, book yourself into our training on 5 May.
You can watch Wendy’s video of the Medieval Festival here for some context and ideas about community engagement at festivals and celebrations. Five people gave their lives to Christ and many people received healing through prayer ministry.