Over the last few months, Stefan Smart (from our church) performed dramatic solo recitals of Mark’s Gospel in three city parks and one church, across the UK, with the latest performance just over a month ago in November.
In a tour known as ‘Mark in the Park’, Stefan visited the Speaker’s Corners of parks in London, Bristol and Lichfield, reciting all sixteen chapters of Mark's Gospel during the course of a day, without use of scripts, props or scenery. This was followed by an additional performance in St Mary’s Church, Lichfield, in November, with a Q&A session at the end.
These one-man, public performances provided Stefan and his team with a unique opportunity to share the good news about Jesus with people passing by, and to engage members of the public in conversation, even praying for healing for people at times. Speaking before the tour started, Stefan said:
“I’m expecting lots of people scurrying past, confused faces and probably a few sniggers. But I hope the raw power of the Gospel will capture people’s attention and their imagination. It’s the greatest story ever told, and I’m not afraid to tell it.”
Stefan’s first recital was in Hyde Park, London, where the performance went well and got a great response from the observers. The team were able to have lots of interesting conversations with people in the park who had stopped to take a look. One bystander gave the following feedback about the recital:
“I was fortunate enough to be able to see a bit of Stef's performance in Hyde Park today and, to be frank, struggle to find the words to say how impressed I was or how powerful I found it, listening and watching the gospel presented like that … He was simply fantastic continually, dramatizing sooo [sic] many episodes rivetingly.”
The following month, Stefan travelled to College Green, Bristol, to perform. The recital drew a decent-sized crowd, including a fair amount of Christians, with plenty of passers-by stopping to observe what was happening. The team also found it easy to chat with interested onlookers.
The final park performance was held in Minster Pool and Walk, Lichfield, and was also a real success. The crowd (a mixture of local Christians and passers-by) responded with generous applause and plenty of kind words, and Stefan and the team received considerable support from the local branch of the Speakers' Corner Trust, and the Lichfield tourist office. The team were again able to have plenty of conversations with onlookers, and as a result of interaction two passers-by became Christians.
Stefan followed up these three performances with one more recital in Lichfield in November, this time in St Mary’s Church. The event (referred to as ‘Question Mark’ rather than Mark in the Park), took a slightly different format in that a Q&A session followed the recounting of the 16 chapters of Mark’s Gospel. The performance was open to the public and free of charge, and went amazingly well, with many kind comments by members of the audience.
Having completed these four performances, what’s the next step for Stefan and this unique project?
Well, at the moment, that’s still to be determined, but at the start of 2017 things are already looking exciting! Several more performances have already been booked (including in a cathedral, a school, at two conferences, and in a few churches), and the team are also hoping to take Mark in the Park abroad. Other possibilities include another round of Speakers’ Corners in the UK (with five more to visit), and perhaps even some work in prisons.
Please continue to pray for Stefan and the team, that God would continue to guide them as they take the project forward, and that more people will have the opportunity to hear the good news about Jesus through this unique recounting of Mark’s Gospel. Please pray for those who will see the upcoming performances, and also all those who have observed part or all of one of the performances in the last few months, that they would realize the truth of what has been said and that ultimately they would come to know Jesus personally for themselves.
You can keep up to date with all the project’s news by following them on Facebook or Twitter, or by visiting the Mark in the Park website. For more information about the project, you can contact Stefan on firstname.lastname@example.org.