Junior church sets the stage for 3Generate performance

10 August 2023

A traditional Sunday school that snowballed into a thriving junior congregation, renowned locally for its musical theatre productions, is set to perform at the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly, 3Generate.

Songs from world-famous shows including the School of Rock will be performed by members of Bladon Junior Church, Oxfordshire, before they give a talk to their 3Generate audience about what belonging to a church means to them.

Originally set up as a small Sunday school at Bladon Methodist Church, the group has dramatically expanded over the years, helping to keep the church buoyant while its adult congregation dwindled.

Around 40 years ago, the group’s leaders suggested turning its small occasional performances into more ambitious and frequent evening shows. Now, every Sunday, up to 40 children attend junior church services which are followed by activities including, for over-fives, rehearsing for the group’s three shows per year.

The performances are so popular that the church has installed a stage, theatre lighting and a professional sound system. The production schedule, which follows the school calendar, can be arduous as audience demand sees the group delivering daily performances of their Autumn, Christmas and May spectaculars. In recent years, shows have included Les Misérables, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin and 42nd Street (picture below).


“The productions are professional but the atmosphere is nice and caring,” says Bladon Methodist Church Secretary and Treasurer Phil Rumsby. “Junior church is like a family in which the older ones help the younger ones. We’re lucky because we’ve got a few young adults helping, including some who join us during their university holidays. Many parents give their time, too, and all our volunteers are key to making the productions happen.”

Phil, his wife, Elisa, and their eldest daughter all join in, helping the children to have fun, develop and learn new skills.

“Many of the children who used to come to junior church have now grown up and brought their own children along,” adds Phil.

The group’s costs, including buying performance rights to musicals, are funded by a ‘friends of the church’ scheme, proceeds from show ticket sales and money from an annual fundraising concert.

Bladon Junior Church’s performance at 3Generate, at Birmingham’s NEC in October, promises to attract the group’s largest audience ever.

Tickets for 3Generate, which runs from 6 to 8 October and is open to young people aged eight to 23 (and those aged four to seven accompanied by one or two adults), are available here until 31 July.