A Methodist preacher is making services go with a flash and a bang by using pyrotechnics from his fireworks business.
Thanks to his illuminating services, Chris Pearce, founder of Jubilee Fireworks, is now affectionately known as the Blaster Pastor.
The Kingswinford company has become world-renowned for its fireworks displays, and now supplies major events at Disneyland Paris and Alton Towers.
Mr Pearce, a lay preacher who qualified in 1994, said the church displays were not a marketing tool, merely a way of making services more interesting.
He said: “There are lots of biblical references to fire and when I am giving a service sometimes I can use my pyrotechnics.
“I don’t do it every Sunday but when I am able to illustrate a particular point using fireworks I am more than happy to do that – for example, if you think about Moses and the burning bush and the day of Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit manifests itself as fire and wind. So it can be appropriate.”
He added: “I don’t use my church work to market my company, it is just that people know that I am involved in fireworks, so I bring my work to life to illustrate what I am talking about.”
Jubilee Fireworks recently won first prize representing the UK at the Monte Carlo International Fireworks Festival.
As well as Disneyland Paris, and Alton Towers the company last month worked with Birmingham City Council for the Artsfest event.
The firm organises around 250 displays a year, from weddings costing £1,000 to international events costing £50,000.
Mr Pearce said the intricate detail required to put on the shows meant Jubilee Fireworks was as much an engineering company as a fireworks firm.
For this year’s Alton Towers display there was a month of pre-planning for three shows, including preparing the fireworks, meetings and organising the music.
Mr Pearce said: “We will have 10 technicians on site for the whole week to prepare and arrange the displays.
“We are talking about three 20-minute displays and it will effectively take a crew of 10 people a whole week of 13-hour days.
“You are looking at a total of 700 man-hours. It is a colossal amount of work.”
The company employs four full-time members of staff and more than 50 part time technicians.
Its ranks are also supplemented by five Spanish technicians who join the company during the busiest period of the year – October to December – while Jubilee technicians also travel to Spain for its busy season in the summer.
As well as France and Spain, the company has supplied to events as far afield as the Far East, Manila, Uzbekistan, and is soon to supply to Vietnam.
It also specialises in indoor fireworks, and has supplied shows by stars including Paul McCartney and Boy George.