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Story 30 - Creepy Cove Community Church

Peter Laws

 
Hi. I’m Peter Laws, the pastor of Creepy Cove Community Church, which sits at the very edge of a clifftop peak.
We overlook the mysterious fishing town of Creepy Cove - a place where all horror movies actually happened.
Okay… so if you’re scratching your head at this point (or reaching for the holy water) let me explain. Creepy Cove Community Church is a creative project I started during the Covid-19 lockdown, and amazingly people all around the world seem to be really connecting with it. Particularly people who wouldn’t normally go to church.
 
Here’s how it works.
 
Creepy Cove is a (clearly) fictional church, that have started broadcasting their services via ‘podcast’. People attend the church by listening to episodes, and they really do sound like church services. Sound effects and music make listeners feel like they there at this clifftop church, and you’ll find all the usual notices, prayers and banter from the congregation. You’ll also hear gothic sounding hymns like you’ve never heard before from the worship band, and a full sermon. It’s a strange mix of audio drama and spiritual exploration. Like a mash up of The Archers, The Twilight Zone and a typical Baptist church service. It’s designed to be enjoyed as pure entertainment, comedy or as a genuine space to explore a non-judgmental expression of Christianity.

  
Story30Pic2You’d be forgiven for thinking that something like this would be too bizarre or niche to appeal, but it’s striking a chord across the world. I’ve been delighted to receive many messages since it started, from people saying things like, ‘I’m an atheist, but now my Sunday routine always involves a trip to Creepy Cove church.’ It’s also quite amazing/humbling to think that my sermons are now being heard by a bigger congregation than I’ve ever preached to before.
 
The concept may sound crazy to many folks, but the principle is actually straightforward. At least when you think about it. In church, we naturally gear our content to the groups we’re working with. Our kids work uses messy games and puppets, while our Bible study groups have tea and biscuits and a circle of chairs. It’s normal to contextualise what we offer, so that it makes the best sense to those who attend. That in essence is what Creepy Cove does – but it’s there to serve a particular group in culture, not in one location.
 

I’m an ordained Baptist Minister, but for years now I’ve been most well known as an author of crime fiction thrillers. They explore themes of Christianity and the supernatural and follow the character Matt Hunter. He’s an ex-church minister turned atheist professor who helps the police solve religiously motivated crimes. I’ve also written many articles and non-fiction work on why many humans are curious about morbid content – from ghost stories, to crime drama, to shocking news. If you don’t believe me just take a glance at the TV schedules, or your local bookstore, or indeed, the Bible itself. Since becoming known in this area, I sometimes get contacted by readers saying, ‘If you ever spoke in a church near me, I’d come to hear what you said.’ Obviously, it was impossible for me to travel across the world to do this… but then lockdown happened. And I noticed something.
 
I was sitting at home each Sunday, eating cereal on my sofa, and I was going to church in my pyjamas via YouTube. What struck me was that even though I wasn’t physically present with my church, it was still a meaningful experience to me. So I thought, why can’t we do this for others, but in a way that really connects with what they’re into? What would happen if I offered a church experience online, that had no geographic limits, and that was specifically designed for people who are fascinated by the same topics as I am.
 
In time, Creepy Cove Community Church was born, and since it’s been launched I’ve been amazed at the response. People who don’t ‘go to church’ seem to really enjoy the idea that they are ‘going to church’. I get photographs of couples overseas who are sitting on their couch with a beer and ‘attending’. People who follow the church on its social media channels interact like it’s a real church – with pictures of lost property or lo-fi notices describing events that are happening in the church or the town. We have a Shark Exorcism coming up next week. Course, we all know it’s not actually real. It’s an immersive storytelling device, and everybody knows it. Yet the growing community, the sense of connection and fun, and the safe space to explore spirituality is very, very real.


Story30Pic3I think that one of the main reasons people feel so comfortable at Creepy Cove is that it doesn’t really have an agenda. This may disappoint or confuse some of my fellow Christians, but it’s not some sort of under-the-radar evangelism tool. A trick to just use things people like as a way of hammering them with ‘the gospel’. I started going to church in my early 20s, and before that I was thoroughly put off Christianity because I got the sense that it didn’t truly care about me or my quirky interests. All it seemed to want was to convert me, then move on to someone else. I was suspicious of churches because of this, but worse still, I got the feeling they weren’t interested in me as a person – only as a future Christian. I know this wasn’t necessarily how it was in reality, but it’s how I perceived it from the outside. And that’s a big deal.
 
That’s why Creepy Cove is designed to be the type of church I’d have been willing to attend back then. It doesn’t dismiss my interests as evil, for a start. Instead, it uses those interests to spark deep thought and spiritual contemplation in a take-it-or-leave it fashion. And secondly, it doesn’t see the ‘unchurched’ as hopeless cases, lost in the dark or lacking morals, while those inside the church are filled with light and can do no wrong. Instead, it’s a place that celebrates humans and seeks to encourage them, no matter who they are or what they believe.
 
The town of Creepy Cove is a place where all horror movies actually happened. That’s why in each service you’ll get an appearance from horror movies characters (like from Carrie or The Fly or The Shining). This church serves a town which is filled with fear, sadness and tragedy. All they want to do is find a little hope in the horror. To me, that’s like every other church. No, forget that. That’s like every other human on the planet. We’re all surrounded by challenges and heartache at times, and so it makes sense that a message of hope and encouragement would resonate.
 
Perhaps that’s why so many people are subscribing to this podcast and heading up to the clifftop peak for our after dark services – simply because its aim is simple. To offer a little hope mixed in with the horror. Though it may also be that we have a Doughnut Vending Machine shaped like a coffin on the porch.
 
Accessing Creepy Cove:
You can attend Creepy Cove Community Church on all the usual platforms, from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Alexa (Just say, ‘Alexa, Play Creepy Cove Community Church). Or find a direct link to the the show here https://www.buzzsprout.com/1128761.
 
Here’s a video trailer for the show:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHbAX6Rcqhg&t=2s
 
Creepy Cove also runs a Patron Program for people who want to support the show. Patrons help keep the main show free, but also get access to exclusive bonus content (such as a bonus weekly podcast from Peter Laws), physical gifts and more. 10% of all Patron fees go directly to the charity, Save the Children.
 
Here’s a video trailer for the Patron Program, click here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69_euZTKSA4&t=6s
 
 
About Peter Laws.
Peter Laws is an accredited Baptist Minister who stepped away from full time ministry about ten years ago when his writing career started to take off. He’s best known for writing a series of award-winning crime fiction thrillers about an atheist ex-vicar who helps the police solve murders fuelled by warped ideas about Christianity. (Purged, Unleashed, Severed and Possessed are all published by Allison and Busby, 2017-2020) He also wrote the acclaimed non-fiction book in shops called The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death and Gore (Icon Books, 2018) which explains and defends the human morbid streak. He writes a monthly column for The Fortean Times print magazine. You can find out more about him and his books here:
www.peterlaws.co.uk

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