TODAY sees the climax of a skateboarding event which has sent a shudder down the spine of a number of Christian traditionalists.
Christian Skaters UK – yep, they really do exist – took over Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire for a three-day event which saw eighty bales of straw and 100 sheets of 8×4 plywood imported into the nave of the 12th century abbey.
The Telegraph was not amused:
One reader commented:
This is no work of militant atheists, but of honest clergymen. The priest in charge, the Rev Neil Archer, says: â€˜Anything we can do that nudges our young people to realise that they are a respected part of our community is helpful.’
Anything? A needle exchange at the font, an amusement arcade in the chancel, a barbecue in the transept? The abbey in the 19th century fell into such decay that donkeys and pigs were kept there.
Its recent guardians had felt superior to those who neglected it so. They cannot now. Fortunately the skate-park will be temporary. The church authorities, though, have made themselves a permanent laughing-stock.
This is not some ordinary abbey, it is the resting place of Athelstan the Glorious, England’s first and greatest king. Though his bones may be gone, the tomb remains and so does his memory. How should the Reverend feel should the tomb be desecrated by some oiks on skateboards?
Said Rev Archer, who insists he isn’t “just some desperate middle-aged vicar trying to be trendy”:
I hope Malmesbury Abbey Skate says loud and clear to the young people of Malmesbury and North Wiltshire that God loves them, that the church welcomes them, and that they are an important part of our local community. I also hope, naturally, that the event helps young people see the church and the Christian faith in a different light.
Hat tip: Ben