Source : 26/06/1974 Northampton Chronicle and Echo
Weird chanting in tongues and fervent scenes of emotion, more associated with the mosques of Mecca, are the images that live in the mind from last night's Thames TV documentary 'The Lord took hold of Bugbrooke' (writes the Chronicle and Echo's TV critic).
Five years ago the Rev Noel Stanton had a vision and the Jesus Fellowship came to be. Since then the quiet Northamptonshire village has become accustomed to some pretty way-out evangelism-religion by community living and a heavy traffic in commuting Christianity.
The response, despite rumours to the contrary, has been typically English, muted and, for the most part, tolerant.
The local rector, Mr. Charles Harrison, for instance, filmed doing his amiable bit at the Darby and Joan Club, likened evangelism to a cold bath - good to get into and very good to get out of.
Perhaps the reaction was best encapsulated in the case history of a drop-out actor who had previously dabbled in Krishna. He became a carpenter ('Jesus is a great chippie').
This young man described how the Lord had whispered to him to shout out 'Praise the Lord' while he was engaged in otherwise inconsequential chat with his work mates. He did and, he said, they accepted him talking to them in this vein.
The film showed him muttering 'Glory' as they chatted through their tea break. Suddenly one of his mates turned to him. 'Do you have to keep saying that?'
Perhaps the production team will consider they did a balanced job if it is said that they were unfair both to the Fellowship and the villagers. Nevertheless that was the case.
Not only are not all the brothers and sisters young drug addicts and drop-outs; not all the objectors are old reactionaries.
There is a genuine concern about the integration of the Fellowship into village life.
In fact there were glaring errors of omission: There was no interview with the key man. No explanation of his past and present. There was no discussion about how the community is financed, although one hears of donations amounting to four figures a week and people giving over a third of their wages. There was no investigation of the good the Fellowship undoubtedly does by stealth in and out of the village.
The impression one was left with was of a religious club, so described by one of the participant's parents, a protected society for people with certain emotional needs.
One thing was obvious. Those who availed themselves best of the opportunity to express themselves freely were those who were already accustomed to doing just that. This was a trip to end all trips.
With so many questions unanswered, quite rightly nobody is casting the first stone.