Some months ago my wife Delma and I were in yet another taxi home from the Gold Coast airport and the driver who is aware of us as the dispatcher says "The Chaplain's House" (which they all seem to know) was bemoaning that the CoolyRocksOn church service had not been held for some years.
One thing led to another and CoolyRocksOn CEO Bob Newman called me up for a cuppa, and the deal was done. Published in the CoolyRocksOn Facebook Page and their web site on-line, the CoolyRocksOn church service had been re-instituted.
So what would a re-instituted CoolyRocksOn church service look like? Bob Newman said it was mine to organise as I saw fit. He assigned Melbourne's Cliff Jolly of the Atomic Hi-Tones as the CoolyRocksOb official gust entertainer for the church service (4 gigs) and it was left to me to plan the church service around this centre piece.
Cliff Jolly and guitarist Ben
A selection of well known hymns were chosen: Immoral Invisible, The Lord's My Shepherd, How Great Thou Art and When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. Bill Parr was on keyboard (Banora Baptist), Lisa Goetze the singer (YWAM Brisbane) with Delma my wife helped out for the 4th hymn and it was set to go.
The CoolyRocksOn church service was set for 8.30am for one hour duration on Sunday 8 June. We arrived early at 7.45am with the key board and all the gear, the security people let us through the barricades and having set up, we parked the car at the side as assigned – The Rev's Spot!
Bob Newman printed off 40 Orders of Service and 40 hymn sheets. It was promoted both on-line and in the printed program and alas, the people kept coming. We quickly ran out of Orders of Service and Hymn Sheets, seats were set up on the dance floor and so many people came they were seated at the tables in the mid section of the marquee. Photographer John Grocott estimated 120 but he said he lost count.
CoolyRocksOn Order of Service
The congregation sang these well known first two hymns as if to shout to the Lord, Cliff Jolly followed with his guest gigs and then there was time for the congregation to come forward and take photographs of Cliff and his guitarist Ben – the Rock'n'Roll celebrities.
How Great Thou Art followed sung heartily by the congregation. Then it was to the preaching, I based my message on Genesis 1 verses 26-28 on the issue of the birth rate where God has instructed the nations to be fruitful and multiply. It was based on my Christian Today article the week before: "Fertility rates is an issue for a range of reasons." (christiantoday.com.au)
The CoolyRocksOn congregation
The culmination of the message centred around the full and energised ethnic Christian congregations in any city in Australia (Korean. Vietnamese, Chinese, Arabic and the rest of them) full of children running about, where the Anglo-Saxon churches by and large displayed exactly the opposite.
A new reformation was taking place across Australia as the main-line church had found its feet in Christian service and look at where the nation meets the Christians – welfare agencies, play groups, meals, fetes, education, sport, music, concerts, retirement villages, weddings, christenings, funerals … the list goes on and on.
In like manner the Christian community was serving the nation with chaplains and ministries – hospitals, industry, commerce, music, sport, military, youth, aged care, juvenile, prisons, YWAM, Fusion, festivals such as CollyRocksOn and the like. Christians are discovering their feet, not walking into a building, rather running to ministry in the community.
Bill Parr on keyboard and the inspirational singers Lisa Goetze and Delma Tronson
The concluding hymn almost saw the marquee's flaps join in chorus with "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder". I shook everyone's hand as they left to the festivities and thanked them for attending the CoolyRocksOn church service. The responses were such it is sure to continue next year again. A Christian Rock Band has offered to join in.
After packing up and enjoying a cuppa in the mix at CollyRocksOn it was time to leave. Officials appointed two young men with their yellow breasted tops to clear the crowds as we inched our way out of the huge CoolyRocksOn festival area which was no small matter … indeed we look forward to next year's CoolyRocksOn church service to shout to the Lord!
Dr Mark Tronson CoolyRocksOn preacher
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html