Manchester Inspirational Voices

Manchester’s Gospel choir with an international reputation, and a heart to share the good news of Jesus.

Listen to the Faith in Manchester podcast with Manchester Inspirational Voices and Wayne Ellington on Anchor. Subscribe on your chosen podcast provider.

Listen to the MIV podcast on Spotify

Manchester Inspirational Voices, known to its friends as MIV, started as a small group in an arts centre in Hulme and has grown to be one of the most respected community choirs in Britain. Up to a hundred singers from all backgrounds join each week to hone their skills and prepare to entertain and minister to eager audiences.

The choir founder and director is Wayne Ellington, a music graduate, performer and vocal coach. He’s performed the songs of Nat King Cole, he appeared in The Voice on national television and he was part of The Kingdom Choir at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

In 2016 Manchester Inspirational Voices were crowned Gospel Choir of the Year in the BBC Songs of Praise search for the nation’s best gospel choir. Since then the choir have been in demand at events across the region, nationally and internationally. The choir regularly visits Germany and Poland and are planning their first foray outside Europe with a tour of Japan in 2020.

Not everyone in the choir has a personal Christian faith, but for all the choir members there is an inspirational element to what they perform, and for many the choir is viewed as a Christian ministry – serving one another as family and serving Christ through music that proclaims Christian truth.

MIV in rehearsal

Tickets are now on sale for MIV’s Christmas concert at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on December 16th 2019, where the guest soloist is Manchester’s JP Cooper. Tickets are expected to sell quickly. Don’t miss out – an MIV concert is more than good night, it’s an experience and a blessing.

Manchester Street Pastors

“Getting someone into a taxi, before they end up in an ambulance”

Manchester Street Pastors are the presence of the Christian Church in the night-time economy of Manchester, serving in multiple locations across Greater Manchester as well as the City Centre.

In their blue uniforms, Street Pastors provide practical help to support people out on the streets at night, and someone to talk to. A night’s duty many involve giving a pair of flip-flops to a woman with a broken heel, giving directions to the train station to a lost visitor, or hearing the story of a broken heart.

Paul Keeble came to Manchester from Northern Ireland in 1978, and he was involved in setting up Street Pastors in Manchester in 2004, following the lead of the first Street Pastors founded in London by Les Isaac.

Paul Keeble speaking at CRE North

Paul said that people love to see the Street Pastors on the streets. He told Faith in Manchester, “People appreciate the fact that we’re there. Every time I go out with the team somebody… will say “thank you for being here”.” Paul, a part of Brunswick Parish Church, says the Street Pastors are motivated by their love of God and wanting to share it in practical ways, and also “to try to put across an image of Christianity and of Jesus which isn’t the one people will pick up from the media”.

Paul Keeble says Street Pastors is a simple act of “being there to care” and meeting the needs of the whole person, responding to people as Jesus did.

Street Pastors is now active in Manchester City Centre, North Manchester, South Manchester, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stalybridge and Stockport, Volunteers are welcome in any of these teams or to start new teams in other areas.

Hear more about Manchester Street Pastors in our interview with Paul Keeble in the Faith in Manchester Podcast Episode 5

Dana opens CRE Manchester

Dana opening CRE with CRE owner Stephen Goddard

Singer and former politician Dana, now appearing in the BBC programme Pilgrimage, opened the Christian Resources Exhibition on its return to Manchester.

In the opening ceremony children from St Leonard’s Primary School, Padiham, sang a re-written version of Dana’s 1970 Eurovision song, “All Kinds of Everything”. Dana welcomed a large crowd to the Exhibition and said it was a place she loved to visit.

Dana spoke to us at Faith in Manchester for an episode of our podcast. She told us about taking part in the BBC series Pilgrimage and opportunites to witness to her faith in words and actions on the walk to Rome.

Dana also spoke to Wayne Clarke about her singing career and the new commercial album she is currently recording in Italy. We also asked her about Brexit and as a former Independent Member of the European Parliament she has strong opinions about the removal of Christianity from Europe.

Dana delievering a seminar at CRE

The Christian Resources Exhibition was well attended, with more than 400 churches represented and included stands from 150 exhibitors and more than 30 seminars covering areas like cyber security and safeguarding in church.

CRE in Manchester this week

The Christian Resources Exhibition is coming back to Manchester this week. On Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th March you’ll find all that every church needs at Event City, near the Trafford Centre.

CRE North in Manchester 2019 includes a sold-out exhibition floor of 150 organisations including the Compassion Experience, CRE’s first-ever Study Zone featuring eight theological colleges, Dana in concert and several up-and-coming artists; Youth and Children’s Trail; Cindy’s Sofa; Brexit: Bridging the Divide with Andy Flannagan of Christians In Politics; Walk Through the Bible: every hour on the hour, and more than 30 seminars and presentations covering everything from cyber security to safeguarding.

Event City, Manchester

Faith in Manchester was there when CRE was launched by the Bishop of Manchester. The launch was held at Spotland, the home of Rochdale Football Club.

The launch last year was opened by Bishop David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, pictured above with Stephen Goddard, the owner of Christian Resources Exhibitions, who bought the company from Bible Society when it looked like it would close. Other speakers on the day included Gospatric Hume, the founder of CRE and Chris Dunphy, the Chairman of Rochdale Football Club, a supporter and exhibitor at Christian Resources Exhibition over many years.

The Christian Resources Exhibition is the biggest show of its kind, featuring every resource that any church could need, from the roof to the hymn book, with resources for mission, music and much more. It has been called the “ideal church show”.

Faith in Manchester spoke exclusively to Stephen Goddard about bringing CRE back to Manchester for the first time since 2014 and the first time under his ownership.

Listen to the interview by pressing the play button below.

Oasis Centre Gorton wins national award

The Oasis Centre in Gorton, Manchester, has won a prestigious national award.

The local Christian charity, which supports the most needy people around the Gorton community, has won the top award in the “Best Social Action Project” category of the 2018 Christian Funders’ Forum Awards.

The glitzy awards ceremony was held on Wednesday 7th November at Mercers’ Hall in London, and the founder of Oasis Gorton, Victoria Armstrong attended the event. Much to her surprise she walked away with the award that recognised her work for the Centre as its founder and driving force, and the transformative work the Centre has done in Manchester.

The CFF Awards recognise and celebrate some of the incredible work being undertaken by churches and charities across the UK and Ireland, which has been funded by members of the Christian Funders’ Forum. The Forum is  group of executives of grant-making trusts and foundations, which makes grants of more than £30 million a year to Christian work. The Forum is part of the work of the Cinnamon Network, which helps churches find faith-based solutions to the pressing needs in their community.

The Oasis Centre has been working in East Manchester for twenty years to deliver a service which helps restore broken lives in the area. Work is about to begin on their ambitious million-pound new purpose-built Centre on Hyde Road in Gorton. This will place Oasis in a better position to serve the local community through the expansion of their current provision and through the development of new services for the local community.

 

Rend Collective at Manchester Academy, 13th May 2018

Good News was proclaimed in words and music in the Manchester Academy to a wildly enthusiastic crowd of over a thousand worshippers, as Rend Collective came back to the city as part of their latest tour, following the release of their chart-topping album, “Good News”.

 

Trinity Worship Project in Manchester
Trinity Worship Project in Manchester

First on stage was “Trinity Worship Project”, a collective of musos from the Worship Arts programme at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada where Rend Collective have been working recently. The band, led by Mitchell Janzen and Kaleb Janzen on guitars and vocals, opened with the hymn All Creatures of our God and King and followed with some bright original songs. They were received with generous appreciation by the crowds.

 

Guvna B in Manchester
Guvna B in Manchester

The next artist thanked his audience for “putting up with some rap when they’d come for a folk band”. But this was not Shaggy at the Queen’s birthday party. This was Guvna B, and not a person in the hall was merely putting up with him. Guvna B, sharing the vast stage with just a drummer, owned the whole space with his boundless energy and humour. Even those who didn’t know his music were drawn in by his personality. What was also clear was his Christian faith – proudly proclaimed as a force for goodness and justice. If ever an artist left an audience wanting more it was Guvna B’s all too brief appearance.

 

Then came the group that even their leader Gareth Gilkeson calls “the Christian version of Mumford and Sons”. “Though at least we’re really Irish”, he adds, wryly. These days Rend Collective are folk-rock and more rock than folk. Once they would be swapping a dozen instruments between them in every song, now they are more likely to stick to guitars, bass, piano and drum kit – though we did see the odd appearance of the fiddle, the mandolin, the uke, and even the hurdy-gurdy.

 

Rend Collective in Manchester
Rend Collective in Manchester

Seven of the songs in their ninety-minute set were from the latest album, and presented in a way very familiar to those who knew the recording. Some oldies were there as well. “Build Your Kingdom Here” was included early on, and “My Lighthouse” predictably appeared in the encore.

Tracks from the new album came thick and fast: “Life is Beautiful”, “I will be Undignified”, “Marching On”. The crowd loved the confident proclamation of “Resurrection Day” and the more plaintiff “Counting Every Blessing”. For me the strongest new song is “Rescuer” with its strong clear lyrics, proclaiming God’s saving power and its nu-folk arrangement, complete with shouted “heys”.

A Rend gig is more than a show – it’s an encounter with God and with his people. The message from the stage is that there are no superstars in the kingdom of God, only worshippers. We were here to offer ourselves in praise to our Creator, not to a bunch of musicians, and praise we did. We also got a sermon as Gareth Gilkeson put down his drumsticks to preach a word of hope based around the message of the tour: bringing good news.

Rend Collective bring Good News in their exuberant music, in the joy of God they show through all they do and in their message of hope. They are a gift to the Church. Their visit to Manchester was an encouragement to those who were there. Their message, though, was that the Good News was to be transformative – not just for one gig but for changing the world.

words and pictures copyright Wayne Clarke @wayneaclarke for Faith in Manchester