Community production brings young and old into church and builds interfaith relationships

As we encourage our churches, schools and fresh expressions of Church to explore ways of extending their everyday faith through action, prayer and witness, news of an initiative by St Denys Church in Evington has provided a great example to share for inspiration.

As the final flourish of it’s 800th anniversary celebrations, many members of St Denys’ congregation have been working on a community production of C.S. Lewis’ classic ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’.

With rehearsals in full swing, the theatrical escapade is bringing young and old together across the parish and into the church, while building on its interfaith relationships.  

Its cast of nearly 40 people, aged 7 – 92, includes members of several different churches and of other faiths and none; local Scouts and Cadets, as well as staff and children from local schools.

A simple idea of everyday faith shared across the communities, the inspiration came several years ago through a conversation the Vicar, Anthony Lees-Smith, had with someone who’d been in a production in another diocese.

Putting on a play seemed a perfect way to celebrate 800 years that would involve the whole community in an active and creative way, while sharing the Christian story. 

Through the church’s regular pub nights, Anthony met Mike Bull - local teacher, actor at the Little Theatre, and member of St James the Greater congregation – who kindly agreed to direct the production, and auditions took place in early 2019.

One cast member, who is taking part along with his three young children, said: “It’s been great to be involved. I’ve met people I would never otherwise have met and, as a Sikh, I like that it has helped to demystify church for my children. They now see it as a place they are welcome and can feel as comfortable as they are at the gurdwara.”

Another member of the cast, new to St Denys and to acting, said: “I would say this has been a great experience for me. I've tried something I've never tried before (though I have sung before in various performances) and have enjoyed meeting new people both old and young, all of whom have made me feel very welcome and part of the activity and community. It's been a lot of fun.”

Church members are also delighted to be working together with others, both on and off stage. One long standing St Denys worshipper said: “We all work well together no matter what faith we are, performing as a community in our church.”


Anthony, who also happens to be playing Mr Beaver, said: “I couldn’t be more delighted with the enthusiasm this project has generated. The atmosphere at rehearsals is warm and supportive

“It has been great to see people getting to know one another and conversations about church and faith have cropped up naturally as people have entered into the story. It’s so full of hope...”

*There will be four performances on November 14th, 15th and 16th.  Tickets (£5/£3) can be booked from Penny on 0116 2712890.








What could you be doing to bring your community together and into church?

Bishop Martyn and St Philip’s Centre have produced a leaflet called ‘Confident Engagement’ about how we can engage with other faith communities, which you might find helpful. You can download the leaflet by clicking on this link:

First published on: 7th October 2019

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