A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Knickers and New Vicars

Even as this blog was being written strange and mysterious processes were underway at Beverley Minster. The outcome will be profound.
It’s been an unusual week at Beverley Minster – again.
As I put the seventh pair of discarded underpants into the bin with a pair of tongs I thought about the party the night before – it had been a good one.
Mind you, there had been no alcohol, no drugs, no debauchery and it had all finished at 9.30, so the lingering presence of the knickers might have been a bit of a shock – but it wasn’t.
We’d just hosted a ‘Superhero’-themed Youth Café, where we opened the Minster to secondary school-age youngsters from Beverley and surrounding areas for 150 minutes of music, entertainment and assorted games.
It seemed to be a popular event – quite a few entered into the spirit of the evening by dressing with underpants outside their trousers, while some had really gone to town and wore incredible costumes.
In total we had 270 teens and pre-teens come through the door into a carefully-supervised environment where all the necessary boxes had been ticked – correct number of adult helpers, check; full risk assessment, check; emergency exits available and safe, check; perimeter secured, check; warning notices in place, check; helpers equipped with bright yellow jackets, check; first aid kit and trained first-aiders in place, check;  power cables secured and safe, check; fire extinguishers on hand, check; experienced staff on door to prevent drink being smuggled in, check; home telephone numbers in case of emergency, check.
By the time that was complete – on top of the hours spent over the previous two days setting up the staging, lights, sound system and bouncy castle – it may have seemed rather a disproportionate effort for just over two hours on Friday evening, but I don’t think anyone involved would agree with that.
Loads of the younger generation had loads of fun, safely, then went home happy. 
Some people might be sniffy about the idea of loud music being played inside a church, with teenagers running around, dancing, eyeing up their contemporaries or dating, but they are ignoring history if they do so, and the evidence is right in front of their eyes.
The Minster has a world-renowned collection of mediaeval carvings of musicians – largely because Beverley was the northern centre for the various guilds that performed in public.
Loud singing and lewd dancing would have been common inside the building – in the Middle Ages church was a place for raucous celebration as well as worship – in fact drunken apprentices were a regular feature of the ceremonies. Todays Youth Cafes are rather tame events in comparison – thank goodness. 
Still, as soon as the staging was stripped down and the south transept restored to its normal calm glory preparations started on an even bigger project, interviewing three applicants for the position of our next vicar.
The work that went into this two-day process was greater even than that required for the youth café, with one day set aside for the Minster to sell itself.
This culminated in an evening meal and entertainment for the candidates where they would also meet 40 members of the church who had been carefully selected to show us off to best advantage.
No – I wasn’t invited, since you asked, but then I didn’t really want to go anyway. And I don’t like cottage pie either. Or red wine. Anyway, my wife went so I suppose that’s all right. And I don’t like organ recitals either. Or more glasses of red wine. So it’s a good job I wasn’t invited really, isn’t it? I had plenty to do at home anyway, what with cooking the dinner and washing up our plates, so it was really quite a lucky thing I wasn’t invited – I’d have had to have turned it down.
No, really, I don’t mind, honestly.
Anyway, Day Two was when the three putative Minster Ministers got to strut their stuff in front of our large interview panel and, at time of writing, I don’t have a clue what the result will be.
How could I? After all, I wasn’t invited to meet them.
All I hope is that, when they go home again afterwards, they don’t leave their knickers in the church.

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