I was delighted to be part of Greenbelt again this year working for CMS in our venue, the Exchange. It’s always amazing to come back to that place and feel the excitement again.
I was really pleased to bump into old friends at Greenbelt. Like Ali Middleton, who is one of our students on the Level 6 Graduate Diploma, and also trained for her Diploma with us as an ordinand. Ali puts it so beautifully because there is something really amazing about Greenbelt. She told me:
“As I return back to a familiar landscape of tents and flags, I take a deep breath aware that I feel a lightness and spaciousness within my soul. I am back amongst the spiritual questioners and explorers. The freedom is almost tangible as I am challenged, entertained and provoked, I relish in this space, refreshed and revitalised.”
And that is how I felt too, except for the bit where I lost my car (briefly!) but that, as they say, is another story!
So this year was familiar territory for many of us, a return to something very special, but for others perhaps a new place.
Whether old or new there was for us at CMS, as always, the chance to connect with people. This year we had a venue, The Exchange, which we shared with others doing entrepreneurial work and where we show cased our work with Make Good (formerly Mission Entrepreneurship week). This week long event in Devon is a chance to explore new ideas and start a new project from scratch.
We had a panel talking about beer and the North; and then we really celebrated with some beer from the North and a time of revelry on the Saturday night as we toasted our Northern Centre.
Lots of people came in to see us, hear us and speak to us.
So what is it about Greenbelt that makes a meeting place for interesting ideas and diverse opportunities? I wonder why some places just breed creativity! I guess it may be the freedom, the chance to be different and to take that difference forward.
Katharine Crowsley has a long history with CMS both as a student, on our Diploma course, and also running the Mission-shaped Ministry course here at CMS a few years ago. Katharine told me:
“I always come to Greenbelt hoping for inspiration, a chance to recharge and the chance to meet up with fellow pioneers. This year was no exception and I was particularly inspired by the presence of Extinction Rebellion at the festival and I attended several of their talks/workshops. What I have taken away from this for my pioneering is the development of craftivism (gentle activism through craft) being used to protest about climate change at a local and wider level. I have started a craftivism group where we are making cloth and knitted posters and cross stitch banners, and a model climate change angel structure, to display in our local village and at climate change protests.”
So Greenbelt is always that place for ideas, for meeting and merging cross-stitch and climate change!
Lastly a word from Paul Bradbury, who has been working with us here at CMS for a number of years, and was involved in our Exchange venue.
Paul told me:
“It was my first time at Greenbelt for nine years and first time at the wonderful Boughton House site. An amazing weekend, made more wonderful by the endless sunshine. A potent blend of Christian spirituality, protest, performance, poetry and politics. I left challenged, unsettled, inspired and hopeful in equal measure.”
I sincerely hope that we will be challenged by what we saw and heard, I know the memories will stay with me for a long time. For those who were there, I hope you also had fun and for those not there this year, maybe we will see you in 2020!
Pray: please pray for those we connected with at Greenbelt, those who may go on to become students, supporters or mission partners with us. Please pray for all the good idea, the fun ideas, the environmental plans that were hatched and matched and that came together in that very creative place.