The church should support entertainers but be very careful not to turn church services into a show.
So says Sir Cliff Richard in an exclusive interview for CRE National 2021, to be aired in Cindy’s Bar (1pm, Wed 13 Oct). It’s part of a day celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Arts Centre Group (ACG).
For decades, the arts were considered a poor choice for serious-minded Christians – until a small group of musicians, actors and broadcasters, including actor Nigel Goodwin, Sir Cliff and Rev Cindy Kent MBE, formed the group in 1971, supporting artists to be ‘fully professional and fully Christian’. Still going strong, Rev Cindy, CRE’s ‘queen of conversation’, will host this special day-long event looking at the world of entertainment and the local church.
Speaking of the need for the ACG, Sir Cliff points out his frustration with the media towards his Christian faith all those years ago, some writers suggesting he could not be an entertainer and a Christian. Meeting with other Christians in the world of entertainment helped him deal with the issue.
‘Church music was hymns and carols, solely for use within the church,’ he says, ‘but over the years the church has had to change and fortunately has changed quite well, though it still gets stuck sometimes.’ He admires many churches in America, for example, fully utilising their members’ gifts but he is also well aware that services can become ‘almost a show.’
Several other guests representing the arts will be guests on Cindy’s Sofa. At 3pm Frank Williams (vicar in the original Dad’s Army) and Sue Hodge (‘Allo ‘Allo) will be the guests of Chris Gidney from Christians In Entertainment. And there will be a special focus on encouraging the next generation of aspiring performers, broadcasters, authors and journalists.
So where next for the church, the arts and the ACG?
‘It is impossible to know. We can only travel the road we are on,’ says Cliff. But he points out that at 81 years of age he is certainly looking for someone to take over his role!
Cliff’s The Great 80 Tour is on the road from Thurs 7 October. Find further information on last-minute ticket availability.
Cliff’s performance of The Great 80 Tour at the Royal Albert Hall will be filmed and broadcast live to over 500 cinemas throughout the UK on Wednesday 27 October and then two encore screenings on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 October. Find a cinema near you.
• The Arts Centre Group @ 50 takes place on Wed 13 Oct at CRE National 2021
Photo: Alan Olley
CRE National 2021
12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey
CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
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