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Andy Salmon: a very interesting vicar

Katie Slade talks to the vicar of Sacred Trinity church, Salford, about beer, music and vampire role playing groups

Written by . Published on June 13th 2011.

Andy Salmon: a very interesting vicar

“FANCY A CUP of tea?” offers Andy Salmon, the reverend of Sacred Trinity church in Salford, an extremely nice gesture considering I’ve just wandered in unannounced, pen and pad in hand, requesting an interview.

“Thanks. Milk, no sugar,” I tell him. We go to his office, and despite trying to deal with a leaking tap and constant urgent calls about maintenance, Andy kindly puts aside an hour to chat about the church’s reputation as a local hotspot for live music and gigs.

“Jesus drank,” Andy reminds me. “Some of the best beer in Belgium is brewed by monks. Beer and wine are one of God’s greatest inventions.” Mental note to self, I think, add that to your favourite quotes section on Facebook.”

“The church should be about community, about bringing people together,” says Andy. “We’re blessed to have such lovely buildings, both here and down at St, Philip’s, and they’re places that bands love to come to where they can play in a beautiful surrounding with great acoustics.”

Sacred Trinity 084Sacred TrinityOver the last decade, Sacred Trinity, and its sister church St Philip’s, have played host to many bands and live musical sessions, including Laura Marling, Marina and the Diamonds, and even The Sugababes. As well as concerts, the church is also used as a venue for art exhibitions and oddly enough a Goth, Metal, 80’s and Punk club night on the fourth Friday of every month. Not all tea and cucumber sandwiches then.     

In fact, Andy is amazed at my complete surprise over the church’s relaxed attitude and full participation in 21 century living.

“Where have you been?” he laughs, to which I reply, “I went to a Catholic school.”

I listen eagerly, delightfully amused, as Andy tells me about the vampire role playing group that congregate at the church.

“They’re really nice, but sometimes a little intense. They tend to huddle together in corners and discuss strategies.”

“But isn’t that against your beliefs?” I ask. “I mean, isn’t it promoting an image of evil and the anti-Christ?”

Andy shakes his head. “Vampires are mythological, just like a lot of stuff. They’re only playing games and acting out the struggle between good and evil, which can also be an internal struggle. The church is all about the victory of good over evil.” 

Most of the bands invited to play at Sacred Trinity and St Philip’s are secular, but Andy assures me this is not an obstacle to enjoying the quality of the performances.

Sacred Trinity 063St Philip's Church“We are particularly happy when we put something on that is ‘spiritual’, but we mean this in the broadest sense of the word. Bands come here because the attentiveness of the audience – it’s just not something you get at a venue like The Academy. The point of the gigs is to hear beautiful, moving music in a spiritual experience that’s shared by all.”

Although he openly admits the income made from charging entrance fees helps to maintain the church’s upkeep. “Of course we make money out of it,” he laughs. “We always need money!”

And as if I hadn’t already been impressed enough, I discover that Sacred Trinity holds a full licence to store and distribute alcohol.

“We know that people like to drink at gigs, and we have no problem with that,” says Andy. “When we know we’ve got a lot of people coming to one of these things, we get a full cask of real local ale in. It’s the best stuff to drink.”

Again, my ancient idea of the church as a stuffy, crumbling building full of old people and puritans looking for the next remotely fun thing they can slap a ban on, is rectified.

“Jesus drank,” Andy reminds me. “Some of the best beer in Belgium is brewed by monks. Beer and wine are one of God’s greatest inventions.” Mental note to self, I think, add that to your favourite quotes section on Facebook.

Sacred Trinity 071Art in Sacred Trinity“You wouldn’t be able to have alcohol in a Methodist church, but the Church of England is far more lenient,” he says. We’re only against alcohol when it becomes abusive and destructive, but no one here would use it for that purpose.”

Despite his liberal outlook and skilled proficiency with technology – that’s right, he blogs as well – Andy reveals that he doesn’t like being labelled. “I hate all this trendy vicar language. People always say, ‘you’re really trendy, aren’t you?’ But I’ve been doing this for years, it’s just what I do.”

As I thank Andy for his time and head towards the door, I catch a guy in black leather, chains, and piercings hanging around the main atrium while heavy rock music plays in the background. It’s enough to raise a smile but not an eyebrow. By this point, nothing amazes me.   

Click here for Jonathan Schofield's history and architectural profile of Sacred Trinity.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJune 13th 2011.

Pedant alert - caption for the second pic embedded within the text is wrong...

Katie SladeJune 13th 2011.

Yeah I just noticed that. Just like to point out, it wasn't me who did the captioning. I know that photo is of St Philip's - not Sacred Trinity.

EditorialJune 14th 2011.

Changed. Thanks. The new software - captioning began yesterday - was unfamiliar so we made a mistake. Now let's discuss the article.

T AsianoJune 14th 2011.

Andy's great, and he is the very model of a thoroughly modern vicar - in touch with his ragtag flock. He makes a wonderful contribution to the twin cities, his answers make me appreciate religion.

Non-vampireJune 14th 2011.

These places are quite remarkable. Even for non-vampires.

Simon SmithJune 14th 2011.

So how big are the congregations for the services at this church?

Or has Mr Salmon diversified totally out of the religion business?

suzyblewJune 17th 2011.

Vicar at St Nicholas Burnage is a goth. According to my MIL she is also the best one they've ever had. A lot of churches are like this nowadays. It is rather old fashioned and out of touch to assume otherwise.

SleuthJune 17th 2011.

Suzy Blew. Is that Anglican churches or RC as well? What about the Methodists? And synagogues? And mosques? Any goths and vampires in those?

James SpencerJune 17th 2011.

SusyBlew# Why do different types of religious 'production' have to be described as 'Old Fashioned' or 'Newfangled'... so 'vive la differance'.... just like it or leave it.

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