Open Air Campaigners has been working in Britain since 1968 when David Fanstone, preached at the first sketchboard open-air on the seafront in Brighton on the south coast. Peter Kennelly is the current National Director and is based in Enfield, North London.
From the small beginnings in 1968, the British staff has grown. There are about 19 evangelists on the full-time staff scattered throughout the country, plus several more abroad! There are also several part time evangelists and schools workers, 2 trainees, around 20 associates, a General Secretary and a National Treasurer.
The work is supported by a faithful council who meet regularly in London and work hard to keep the organisation on track with legal and other matters.
All evangelists are members of a local church and are often involved in preaching and teaching roles. The evangelists are trained to work within the church and are particularly effective in all-age evangelistic services. Many of our evangelists lead both adult, youth and children's missions within churches.
This is a significant distinctive of OAC and all our evangelists are trained both to preach in the open-air and to provide training in this area. The sketchboard or illusions/escapology would be most people's choice for this sphere of communication as a visual presentation is most likely to draw a crowd. Most of the evangelists operate an open-air ministry on a regular or semi-regular basis - as much as possible given the unpredictability of the British weather!
In Britain it is a legal requirement that each child in school should attend a daily act of worship, and should also be taught Religious Education. We have the privilege of being able to go into state schools to take assemblies and also R.E. classes. Again the sketch board is a useful tool for telling Bible stories, supplemented by illusions to illustrate gospel messages. OAC evangelists have one of the most extensive schools ministries in the country, in terms of the number of children we reach with the gospel on a regular basis. This has a direct effect in the open-air when children and young people recognise our staff and the input can then be followed up.
Some of our staff in port cities are involved in cooperation with the Seamen's Mission in visiting ships . It is an effective way of sharing the gospel with people from around the world.
In Britain there is currently a mini revival occurring in the prisons. Many prisoners are coming to faith and some of our staff regularly minister "inside".
A regular feature of British life are New Age festivals that take place mainly in the summer months and particularly down in the South West of the country. Our teams in Cornwall and the South West are frequently a feature of these events and are usually on the programme as "Traditional Story Tellers". Our marquee is a good centre for people to come and relax and chat, watch children's presentations, get faces painted and many other things!
OAC has always been a "give away" organisation. Training and motivating Christians for evangelism is a central part of our ministry. National training seminars are held annually in both Open Air and Schools ministries. These plus our national staff training programme are overseen by our Training Director Geoff. Beckingham. Additionally we run regional seminars and training events tailored to the needs of individual local churches. Ask for details!
OAC Ministries is a faith mission, and each evangelist is responsible for raising his/her own support. We are supported by a huge variety of people and churches who give, often sacrificially so that the work can continue and pray faithfully so that the work is effective.
The Blog for even more up-to-date and brush- stroke by brush-stroke accounts of activities.
OAC Ministries National Office
OAC Ministries, 159 Parsonage Lane, Bishops Stortford, Herts CM23 5BD
Mail: PO Box 1248, Enfield, Middlesex, EN1 9UL
Tel. (+44) (0) 1279 897679
In September 2014 a new National Director is to be appointed, after which the above address may be changed. If in doubt, use the contact form for the latest contact info.!