Jesus people, loving people

In the Village Where Religion is a Singing, Swinging Affair

[Source: Daily Mail Published: Sunday, 16 September, 1973]

by Leslie Watkins

This tiny village, tucked away in the quiet and, gentle countryside five miles from Northampton is today the centre of an amazing religious phenomenon.

More than 200 people – in a village with a population of about 800 – have dramatically ‘dedicated their lives to Jesus.’

Tomorrow, for services right through the day at Bugbrooke Chapel, there will be standing room only. And almost every night of the week, for sessions which can last for three hours or more, the chapel is usually packed.

Nowhere else in Britain has experienced such a concentrated surge of religious fervour. So many people want to be part of the ‘Bugbrooke Miracle’ that some travel for miles almost every day to attend prayer sessions.

For Jesus is not merely alive in this village. He dominates the activities of all age groups – from tiny babies to people nearing their ninetieth birthdays.

On an ordinary week-day evening, when most boys of his age would be watching television, 14-year-old Derek Rush Is bowed before the Cross as he reads aloud from his Bible.

Shouts of praise

A 20-year-old former drug-addict called Rufus Frampton – who abandoned a promising television acting career when he ‘found the Lord’ is ‘speaking in tongues’ and contorting on the floor in spiritual ecstasy.

A woman in her mid-eighties, too old to copy those jiving uninhibitedly in the chapel aisles, is waving her arms as she shouts her hallelujahs.

And in the main street people are embracing each other in joyful Christian love.

‘Bless you brother.’… ‘I love you, sister.’… ‘Thank you, oh, thank you. Lord Jesus!’

The whole village Is alive with their enthusiasm and their spontaneous shouts of praise. And the clashing of tambourines lifts them to higher and still higher planes of excitement.

So much was written about the Jesus Freaks, about young drop-outs and drug addicts being taught to ‘get stoned on the Spirit of Christ.’

But the pattern here, although similar in many respects, is dramatically different. For this extraordinary religious revival slashes through all barriers of age and background.

What has caused it?

One middle-aged chapel-goer explains simply: ‘Four years ago” the Lord took Bugbrooke by the scruff of its neck and said “I want you for My own.” Since then the village has been possessed by the love of Jesus.’

Bugbrooke Chapel was built in 1908. And the Rev. Noel Stanton, a 47-year-old business executive, who started ministering there as a Baptist preacher 17 years ago says:

‘We always had a fairly substantial congregatlon and on Sunday evenings we might have as many as 60 people here.

‘But about four years ago there came a tremendous change. I had been baptised in water, of course, but suddenly I felt I was being baptised – really baptized – in the Spirit.

‘Some members of my congregation completely shared this wonderful experience. We realised that so much of the Christian faith was traditional and respectable but it was missing “life.”‘

Paths to glory

So the whole tone of the meetings was dramatically changed.

Worshippers were encouraged to let their emotions – their exhuberant joy in the love of Christ – erupt for everyone to share.

Village schoolmistress 50-year-old Miss Verna Paul has been attending the chapel since the age of seven. She used to accompany the traditional hymns on the piped organ.

Now she plays hot swinging numbers on an electronic organ – while youngsters, with the marks of heroin needles still on their arms clash tambourines.

‘Some of the older people did not approve of the change,’ she says.’A few have gone to Baptist chapels outside Bugbrooke and I believe one or two have gone to the Church of England.’

At the nearby Church of England the Rev. Charles Harrison expects a congregation of between 40 and 50 for his evening service ‘tomorrow.

But the Bugbrooke chapel people, although they have opted out of being purely Baptists, ” do not consider themselves in competition with other churches.

As one of them said: ‘We don’t pretend for a moment that we’ve got the only road-map to Heaven.’ They glory in the fact that there are many paths to God.

However, some of the people who live near the chapel do not share – their joy – and have even threatened to withhold their rates because of the disruption of their peace.

They feel that it Is quite permissible to praise the Lord – as long as you don’t make too much noise about it.

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