The Port Fairy Folk Festival is a much-loved community event with many attendees returning year after year to enjoy a range of music, comedy, spoken word, workshops and craft stalls.
This year the Port Fairy Uniting Church offered a special Sunday worship during the March weekend with local singers and musicians performing Sacred Tapestry – Songs of Carole King.
Singers from churches in Warrnambool and Allansford had rehearsed over several weeks, accompanied by a small group of instrumentalists led by Hopkins Region minister Rev Geoff Barker on the piano.
For the Sunday the church was filled to capacity with locals and festival-goers spilling into the entry porch and sitting in the aisles.
The concept was that it was not so much a concert as an occasion where people were invited to join in.
The song list included You’ve got a Friend, Beautiful and Way over Yonder.
Mr Barker wove commentary throughout the service that noted connections and divergences of Carole King’s lyrics with the Christian story.
He affirmed the songwriter’s invitation to make a bigger life and quoted the now famous story of King carrying a sign in a protest march which read ‘one small voice’.
Mr Barker said the notion of standing up even with one small voice “sits alongside Christian understandings of speaking for the oppressed and overlooked”.
An invitation to participate in communion was extended to everyone.
“If you are a follower of Jesus, or just curious about him, or would like to grow in the values he taught, you are welcome to join in,” Mr Barker said.
During the passing of the peace, a self-professed atheist remarked: “I only came here because I love Carole King’s music, but I’ll go away and I’ll be thinking about what the minister said.”
Two members of the singing group, Milly Morrow and her daughter Barbara, said they were very pleased at how warmly the audience had received the music and the impact it appeared to have.
“It is great to hear Geoff’s commentary on the songs, he makes faith come alive,” Mrs Morrow said.
Julie Burch, who had travelled from Warrnambool to be part of the congregation, was equally delighted.
“This enlivens and enriches the community, it gives people heart.”