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The Big Church Poetry Slam

Author: Abbie Doyle, 7 June 2024

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Rebecca Rocker from Swindon beat 16 other spoken word artists, to win The Big Church Poetry Slam 2024 (run in partnership with Step FWD). Her three incredible spoken word pieces were based on characters, stories and themes from the Bible, as well as a direct recital.

Watch Rebecca in action

On 4 May 2024, 16 spoken word artists and poets competed in The Big Church Poetry Slam semi-final, in London. This round was hosted by our partners Step FWD as part of their own Poetic event.

Each of the superbly talented individuals competing wrote and performed pieces inspired by characters, themes and stories from the Bible. 

An audience of over 500 watched as each poet was scored out of ten (by five randomly selected audience members) and the eight top-scoring artists secured places in the final on the Spoken Word Stage at Big Church Festival.

The final at Big Church Festival

The Poetry Slam final took place on 25 May 2024 in front of an audience of around 400 at Big Church Festival. The finalists were overflowing with creativity, God-given talent and a passion to share God’s word. 

Throughout the Big Church Festival weekend, the overarching theme for the Spoken Word Stage was ‘weep and rejoice’. It was a joy to watch artists focusing on specific Bible characters or stories, and reciting directly from Scripture with the ever-present message that God is with us and for us through our weeping and rejoicing. 

The Poetry Slam final consisted of three rounds: the theme for round one was a Bible character. Among the characters chosen were Mary (mother of Jesus) and Moses. The poets drew on the strengths of these characters, imagining how they would have felt within their stories and pursuing parallels between their lives and ours. 

Four finalists made it through to round two and for this, they each performed a piece directly from the Bible. This involved memorising a passage and bringing it to life for the audience. With some creative licence allowed but keeping it true to God’s word, this was a beautiful expression of Scripture.

Two finalists made it to round three and its theme, ‘weep and rejoice’. Each poet wrote a raw and authentic personal piece about how we can praise God through the good and the bad, how we can always rely on him and how he is always for us, especially when life is hard. 

Score boards were handed to five random members of the audience and after each performance they gave their scores out of ten.

Then, numbers were crunched to reveal the person with the overall highest score as the winner. 

Rebecca's story

Rebecca Rocker received her trophy as winner and told us: 

‘It was so exciting to be part of The Big Church Poetry Slam. Poetry has always been an important part of how I understand the world and reconcile my faith. For the last ten years I have struggled with health issues, infertility and miscarriage. I turned to the book of Psalms and found words to help me lament. In the suffering and confusion, I found a deeper connection with God. In 2 Corinthians 4 it says, “It is written : ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have the same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak” (verse 13, NIV).

‘This year, I felt God telling me it was time to start speaking. The Slam was an amazing opportunity to get the poems off my phone and be more vocal about God’s unending faithfulness. Winning was so encouraging but that was never the goal. The goal was to share my faith with authenticity in the hope it would connect with people, and I was so blessed to have been part of that through the slam.’ 

The talent, courage, and resilience of all those who entered this competition was astonishing. Many had not performed in front of large audiences before, yet all were very professional and inspired others to look at the Bible differently.  

The eight finalists were all women and the encouragement they gave each other as they prepared and performed was wonderful to see. It was a competition, but these women were all supporting each other.

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