Thursday, 28 August 2008


Last weekend was spent at Greenbelt the Christian music and arts festival which for the last ten years has been held at Cheltenham racecourse.

It was my first visit there and I had been encouraged to think about going by the young people of my own Church at Monton (pictured left with Liz and Clive Nulty and Anne Huddleston) who had decided to camp. I am much more nesh (a Northern expression) and plumped for a local B and B!

Methodists were well represented and in addition to my predecessors Ruby Beech and Dudley Coates I was pleased to meet up with Karen and Melvyn Kelly and their young daughter Naomi (left).

Greenbelt attracts about 20,000 people of all ages and it has a very welcoming and safe feel about it - even the local pirates are friendly (Colin Smith pictured below in alternative liturgical dress).

The range of activity on offer is amazing -from African drumming to Gregorian chanting (which was so popular I couldn't find a place on the floor). On Saturday afternoon I went to an excellent workshop on theatre directing led by Esther Baker who produces plays with prisoners.

The talks and debates were equally diverse and I enjoyed both Joel Edwards of the Evangelical Alliance and John Bell of the Iona Community - stimulating and well earthed.

Four Christian MP's from different parties were interviewed by Simon Mayo and spoke of how their shared prayer fellowship had enabled them to produce a report on wellbeing in society earlier this year- a positive Christian contribution to the ongoing debate, which arose out of a concern that the Church was too often seen as being negative in its criticism rather than offering constructive alternatives.
Performers from Beth Rowley and Jose Gonzalez to yFriday held the Mainstage each evening whilst elsewhere you could sample a couple of different bands or performers every hour of the day or night so it seemed.
Worship centred on the Communion service on Sunday afternoon but there were many other opportunities to experience a rich variety of prayer and more experimental worship, including a 6 am sunrise service - attended by a goodly number according to early risers Ruby and Garry.
The whole event is well organised and staffed by helpful volunteers; there are good partnerships with Christian Aid and others. There are many fair trade and ethical trading stalls to sample and buy from - as well as a good selection of eateries.
The verdict from our own young people was clear - they all wanted to go again next year!


Olive Morgan said...

Thank you, David, for giving us such a good picture of Greenbelt. I have often wondered what went on there - apart from music and camping. You have explained why so many young folk want to go again year after year.

Rev Tony B said...

And did you discover the organic beer tent "The Jesus Arms" and enjoy the "Beeer and Hymns" in the evening? Thousands of people, singing hymns with great gusto over a pint or two. My Anglican colleague was there this year, and reckons he's found an authentic British spirituality...

Last year I went from that to a Taize service. Just perfect.

Sally said...

sounds great, my daughter Joanne went this year, we hope to go next year.

Charles Wesley said...

That's what Colin Smith wears every Sunday.