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Banned whale delights with Jonah retelling

Having been banned by the Royal Parks in London for being too religious, a 50ft inflatable sperm whale finally beached at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset this week.

WhaleThe biblical story of Jonah was re-told inside the whale to children and their parents. It was a dramatic re-telling of the Old Testament story that included singing, dancing and edible seaweed.

The event marked the start of three days of biblical storytelling on the beach hosted by perfomers Circo Rum Ba Ba and the Bible Society. It runs until Thursday 28 August with five performances every afternoon.

But it could have been so different, as earlier this year the Royal Parks, including Hyde Park and Greenwich Park in London, told Bible Society that they were not able to host ‘events of a religious nature’. The ban despite the fact the Queen, who owns the Royal Parks, is the patron of the Bible Society, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

But the beach at Weston saved the day for the whale. The sun broke through heavy rain. Donkeys were led up and down the beach, and children made sandcastles outside the whale.

Rachel Rounds, a member of Calne Baptist Church in Wiltshire, is Head of Media at Bible Society. She said, ‘The Royal Parks in London may have banned Bible Society from telling the story of Jonah, but Weston has saved the whale.

‘Recent research for our Pass It On Campaign showed that 59 per cent of children didn’t know the story of Jonah was from the Bible. So we want to encourage the next generation to engage with great Bible stories and what better way than from the inside of an inflatable whale, told by a circus troupe?’

Darren Fairchild, Seafront and Event Services Manager for North Somerset Council said that for him, there was no controversy over staging the event. ‘It’s a bit quirky and fits perfectly within the seafront,’ he said. ‘If we can give the children an educational lesson here it sends them away with a positive message.’

Children sat attentively as Jonah told how he had ended up in the belly of a whale.

Eleven-year-old Stan from Weston-super-Mare said, ‘My favourite bit was when Jonah fell over board. It was really funny. He wasn’t expecting that the captain of the ship would do that.’

Rachel (31) a mother from Warwickshire, took her children to the event. She said, ‘It’s good for the children to see a Bible story. It’s nice for them to know.’
Picture: Clare Kendall/Bible Society
Baptist Times, 27/08/2014
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