For those of you unaware, Greenbelt is a faith-based festival of performing arts, defined as being “when faith, arts and justice collide”. The atmosphere around the festival is second-to-none and really adds to the programme that Greenbelt and we, as the URC, offered, so part of the experience you really have to just ‘be there’ for! (And yes, that is my pressing you to book on for next year!)
The URC, for this year and next, is an associate partner with Greenbelt. Meaning that we have our own slots on the programme and a small marquee to ‘be’ the URC. The theme for the URC@Greenbelt project was ‘Scrap The Church?’. You can search #ScrapTheChurch on Facebook and Twitter for lots of posts about what went on! But we were looking at promoting conversation amongst everyone. Lots of people walked past our tent asking about us as a denomination and why we wanted to scrap the church? But we were not setting out to scrap the church! We want to find out what it is about the church you want to scrap, if anything?! That’s all part of the conversation, which I invite you to join in!
Programme starlets included a Scrap The Church panel discussion, with the topic hotly debated to a packed out venue! Our star treasure hunt (#URStars) around the village, pop-up liturgies, poetry from Revd Lucy Berry every night, music from Dan Simpson, and more! As people passed by they were also invited to place into our church-shaped bin things they wanted to scrap about the church, and then took a star to remind them of the fact that it’s not all doom and gloom, and that we do have hopes and visions for the future of God’s wonderful church!
URC Youth was invited to host a Cake & Debate on the topic too, this was well attended by young people aged 11-18, during which three panellists (myself included) pitched their ideas on what they wanted to scrap about the church! Interaction was a-plenty and we got some fantastic responses and conversations going! My favourite bit was Grace Pengelly, Secretary for Church & Society, being told to arrive to church on time by one group, after she complained that she got rubbish seats in church when sneaking in at the back! But it was a fantastic event and was great to see so many young people engaged and passionate about change in the church.
One of my personal highlights was watching the Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans, and watching my very own dad perform on the mainstage in Hope & Social’s ‘Band Anyone Can Join’. There were many other great moments to be shared but I shan’t go on! Ask me more if you want!
Greenbelt’s location, Boughton House in Kettering, offered a stunning setting including lakes and a lawn to play games on! Greenbelt itself brings in plenty of food stalls and space to chill out, including an aptly named pub ‘The Jesus Arms’. Let’s just say that ‘socialising’ was enjoyed by all…
At Greenbelt there really is something for everyone, you can sit and listen to music, comedy, poetry, talks, watch films, dance, other acts, make and do at many workshops and interactive sessions, or just relax and enjoy tasting what other organisations bring to the festival. It’s suitable for all ages, because you don’t have to camp! There are lots of B&Bs nearby!
So I can highly recommend going to Greenbelt, especially given the URC’s strong presence there. But also because it’s a fantastic opportunity to develop your faith and find new ways of doing church. Because Greenbelt, for me, and many others, really is church!
It’s super cheap to go if you’re a young person, and still not horrendously expensive if you’re a not-young person!
If you’d like to know anymore information, just let me know! But in the mean time… www.greenbelt.org.uk/tickets