The 2012 Big Church Day Out was the biggest yet, 20,000 people gathered to join with some of the world's best loved Christian bands and artists, worshipping together as one. At times the rain poured down but nothing could dampen the spirit of celebration.
(c) Mikey Oldfield
With seven acts being flown in from America and Canada, the two-day celebration at Wiston House, Sussex proved to be excellent value for money.
While many of the artists had travelled thousands of miles to play at the event, The Big Church Day Out, now in its fourth year, remained a decidedly British occasion. With the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations happening in simultaneously in London, delegates entered into the entire nation's party atmosphere with ease.
As well as top music on the main stage, the marketplace, prayer room, Wiston church, UCB stage and tea tent all hosted extra events and artists including Tom & Olly, Cathy Burton, Guvna B and Iona.
Saturday's main stage action kicked off with Lou Fellingham’s Phatfish leading worship. Based just a few miles down the road in Brighton, the band attended the day with their families. In an attempt to crush any "rock star" personas Phatfish may carry, Lou Fellingham later revealed her morning had consisted of making sure suncream, wipes and nappies were organised for her children, before jumping on stage with the band!
Mark Hall from Casting Crowns
(c) Mikey Oldfield
Rend Collective Experiment delighted the crowds with their set. Inviting the thousands gathered to worship with them, the Irish lads and lass played their folk version of Be Thou My Vision as well as fan favourite Movements and new song Build Your Kingdom Here.
The middle of the day was handed over to American artists Leeland, NewWorldSon, Phil Wickham, Newsboys and Big Church Day Out veteran Israel Houghton.
Pete Greig and Diane Louise Jordan introduced each act with their usual wit and energy. In between each main stage act the crowd did everything from praying for the Queen to crowd-surfing the event’s mascot Eunice the Ewe.
(c) Josh Hailes
While the audience were largely unfamiliar with Leeland and NewWorldSon’s music, they lapped up the Newsboys high energy performance. But the biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for Israel Houghton, as despite the rain, people jumped, danced and sang along to hits including You Are Good and Say So.
Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon and Nicki Fletcher along with the Worship Central band drew the evening to a close as the light rain turned heavy.
With Sunday’s program being almost entirely different to the day before, hundreds braved the weather and camped overnight, looking forward to another action packed day.
Despite awakening to a waterlogged campsite, spirits remained high as hundreds trekked back over the hill towards the main stage.
The cold and wet audience were thankful as the sun emerged just in time for a career-defining performance from LZ7. Playing all of their biggest hits and encouraging crowd participation, the band had their audience in the palm of their hand. Lindz West oozed energy both in his music and passionate plea for people to support the band’s evangelistic work. It was a phenomenal effort.
(c) Josh Hailes
Muyiwa brought his straight up gospel sound to the event and was very well received before one of the most anticipated acts of the day took to the stage.
'Liturgical post rock' probably isn't everyone's cup of tea but the beauty of the Big Church Day Out is there really is something for everyone. Gungor, fronted by husband and wife team Michael and Lisa Gungor, went down well with hardcore fans but left newcomers to their music a tad perplexed. You can’t fault the band for pushing the boundaries and writing fresh music, but sadly they never quite engaged with the majority of their audience.
Phil Wickham was back for day two and played another outstanding set. Fresh off the release of Singalong 2 (a free acoustic album available from his website), Phil played a mixture of old and new songs with both a full band and as a solo singer with nothing but an acoustic guitar. Last year, Newsboys debut performance at the event went down so well, they were invited back for a second year. My prediction is history will repeat itself, this time with Phil Wickham.
Casting Crowns were next to play, and a large portion of the crowd sung along to their most well known songs including Courageous and Until The Whole World Hears.
The rain pours down
(c) Mikey Oldfield
Ex Delirious frontman Martin Smith treated the audience to plenty of new songs off his recent EPs. While most of his songs were new, he couldn’t resist throwing in the Delirious classic Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?, much to the delight of the thousands gathered. It was never going to be quite the same as 2009 when Delirious? headlined the first Big Church Day Out, but Smith’s band gave a convincing performance.
Israel Houghton played another fantastic set before the event closed with Matt Redman leading everyone in worship. The world-renowned worship leader was also supported by LZ7 for a special rendition of their recent chart hit 27 Million.
As the crowds departed, organiser of the event and former Delirious keyboard player Tim Jupp asked everyone to "bring a friend next year". According to Jupp, the site is only at half capacity. As an attendee every year I’m pleased to be able to report that the Big Church Day Out keeps on getting better and better. See you next year?
Our 100 top pictures:
June 8th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes