Images & words © Steve Collins unless otherwise noted
Alternative worship is a movement that began in the late 1980s among Christians who felt that the usual forms of church were seriously out of alignment with the culture that they now lived in. People formed groups and began to experiment with the forms, content and structures of church. They used the latest cultural idioms and technologies, but also reached back into church traditions to find neglected resources and wisdom.
The movement coincided with the rise of the public internet, which enabled groups and individuals to connect with one another across the world and share ideas. This site has been a part of that process.
See the Intro section for more about alternative worship.
This site is based around my own personal photographs (and latterly videos) of services and events that I have visited or been involved in. See here for some personal notes. As the site became well-known people allowed me to include their own photographs, to give a fuller view. It is not a complete picture, either of the movement as a whole or of individual groups.
The peak years of this site are 2000-06, when I was attending several groups and travelled to record others. From the late 00s I mostly saw other groups at Greenbelt festival (although they did their most ambitious work there). Since 2014 Greenbelt has not been a showcase for this kind of event. In addition many of the groups shown here have ended, or have moved away from spectacular events towards an emphasis on community.
Still photographs, however striking, only give a partial idea of a complex event. Music, spoken and written words, movies, movement, change, even smell and taste are absent. Filming these events was difficult even for people with sophisticated equipment before the late 00s. Many wonderful moments could not be photographed, because they were not visual or it was not appropriate to be pointing a camera. It's strange to think that these images are now the only public record of many of these events.
This site is dedicated to the memory of Nic Hughes