Live music is coming back this November, and it’s coming to St Alban’s Epping. In a push from ARIA and Destination NSW to reignite the music industry, one thousand live performances are scheduled around NSW as part of ‘Great Southern Nights’, from the Blue Mountains to the Snowy Mountains, from Newcastle to Wollongong, and from the outback to Epping. 

Music has always been important to Bishop Ross Nicholson, the rector of St Alban’s. In March, they launched ‘The Fireplace’, a live music venue in their church to encourage Christian artists “out of the garage and on to the stage.” COVID laws promptly complicated their plans to host a monthly performance. Now they are ready to join the festival of gigs happening across the state.

“Music is an opportunity to express our creativity and represent the image of God through that creativity…”

“We’ve got something for everyone, from pop to storytelling, jazz, country and gospel,” says Bishop Nicholson. Gigs will feature every Saturday in November at ‘The Fireplace’, kicking off with several artists, including Pat Drummond and Golden Guitar Awards winner Felicity Urquhart. 

An opportunity to creatively express and connect

We’ve always had a music tradition [at our church],” says Bishop Nicholson. “Music is an opportunity to express our creativity and represent the image of God through that creatively.”

Surrounded by new high rise buildings that represent the changing landscape of Epping, Bishop Nicholson also sees the church as a place for connection and community.

“Within two to three years, there will be a thousand people living within 200 meters of St Alban’s,” he says. “The church has a real important role in reaching out and facilitating community. We want to connect...and show that through the church, you are being brought into a new community that God is creating, like a taste of the kingdom of God.” 

Our music industry also needs our support

Since lockdown laws in March, the music industry has struggled to get by. Cancelled gigs and closed venues have greatly affected many including musicians, sound engineers, lighting crews, hospitality staff and venue managers.

“Whenever there is a disaster, the music industry is always the one called upon to fundraise and help, and yet here is an industry that has been anihilated because of COVID,” says Bishop Nicholson. “Here is an opportunity to see them live and support them.” 

“We want to get Christian artists out of the garage and on to the stage…”

Attending performances is one way to assist the industry, and also the initiative of St Alban’s. Another way is to pray for them as they seek to celebrate musicians and the community.

“Pray that our local community would hear about the gigs and turn up, and they would also connect with our church,” says Bishop Nicholson. “That’s a pretty big prayer, that ‘The Fireplace’ will be a community connection. We pray this is an encouragement to musicians. We want to get Christian artists out of the garage and on to the stage. It’s as much an encouragement for the musicians as it is for those who come along.”