Years ago I was sat waiting to perform a little acoustic set in a bar in the centre of Leeds. I sat between 2 friends from Gateway Church and during the evening we felt a connection with the rest of the people in the room as the musician on the stage played his music. He was just singing regular songs about love and relationships, he bantered with the small crowd, we joked between ourselves as shared appreciators of his songs, but the three of us had this sudden awareness of the power that music can have in unifying people. Everyone in the crowd was so relaxed and open. It was so easy to chat to nearly anyone else in that room because there was this common ground and sense of mutual acceptance there.
In that moment the three of us dreamt of running our own music night in a bar in Leeds; one that would be accepting and unifying but one that would carry something different about it too – a place where the presence of God could be felt and known too. 6 months later we’d set up a monthly music night at Escobar in the city centre which ran for 3 years. We gained a really positive reputation in Leeds and musicians from Leeds and beyond started contacting us, wanting to perform at it as they’d heard about how great the nights were. Even the bar manager and his wife recognised there was something different about the crowds we drew. We prayed for a few people and saw some physical healings as well. But once Gateway had finished renovating St Marks Church, we just had to start putting on gigs in the glorious surroundings of the church. It had always been a dream of ours to host music events there so we started running about 5 or 6 events there a year. Musicians described it as one of the most wonderful venues they’d ever played in.
Then last October we decided to run a small music festival – a full afternoon and evening of past and new performances on both the main stage downstairs and smaller, more acoustic performances in the upstairs room too. It was such a great celebration of music! I heard of many conversations between Gateway folks and their friends about the building, the story of Gateway and acquiring St Marks. I even got into a conversation about faith with one of the performers.
Despite the hard work it took to put the festival on we decided to run it again as the feedback was so positive. This year we’re scaling the event down slightly and just having one stage in the main hall. The line-up of artists is extremely exciting and a real mix of styles; from acoustic to hip-hop, indie to soul. Most of the artists are from the local music scene and not part of Gateway, except for our very own Alex Brandon-Davies aka Daddy-Abe aka who will put on a great show of his gospel focussed songs! Music will run from 2pm until 11pm with 20-minute interludes in between each act so you can grab a drink from the bar or get some food in the café. Children of all ages are welcome so long as they’re well supervised and not too disruptive during performances.
We really believe God can use this social event to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally step into a Church or be interested in attending a ‘service’ or an alpha course. We really hope you can join us for the day. It’s such a great opportunity to hang out together but more importantly an opportunity to invite our friends, family and neighbours to a top quality event. Who knows what conversations might be had or what doors might open!
Why not bless a neighbour or friend by offering to pay for them! Tickets are £5 in advance (or £7 on the door), book online here: www.liveatstmarks.com.
By Pippa Lloyd