from Signs of the Times No. 43 - Oct 2011
Two perspectives on the four-day annual Greenbelt Festival held at Cheltenham Racecourse over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
'With 21,000 people, music, campers and traders aplenty, Greenbelt might look like any other Festival. But scratch beneath the surface and you find something special...'
So says the Greenbelt website. This was certainly the experience of those of us who spent time at Modern Church's stall in the G-source tent. We found ourselves being a focus for many interesting conversations again this year. A banner which said that Modern Church rejected the Anglican Covenant called for explanation many times over. The leaflet Liberal Theology was the one most frequently picked up off the display stand and the Forewords booklets were again popular.
It was important that we were there amongst a wide range of Christian organisations.
Our second appearance at Greenbelt reinforced the message from the first: that an organisation which makes no bones about proclaiming a religious liberalism is popular, and strikes many people as just what is needed.
Our Liberal Theology leaflet ran out halfway through the event. Those who used to tell us that we really ought to be at Greenbelt were clearly right.
Like last year we had the occasional long discussion with people who disapproved of us; I spent some time with a supporter of Reform who was also a comedian and was dressed as a dinosaur at the time. Appropriately, I would like to think. But I wonder how he would describe the encounter.
There were snags. We were short of volunteers, except at the end. Our stall was near a stage, where much singing and speaking into a microphone obliged us to speak up with enquirers in order to be heard. The rain dripping through the holes in the marquee meant we had to be careful where we put the literature; but perhaps it had its compensations - our marquee seemed busier when it was wet outside!
Many thanks to all who helped. Especially Christine who organised everything so well.