United Reformed Church prepares for Greenbelt Festival 2018

Not yet made plans for August Bank Holiday weekend? Now is the perfect time to get the weekend sorted.

Why? Because the Greenbelt Festival takes place at Boughton House, Northamptonshire, from 24 to 27 August 2018 – and the United Reformed Church will be there again as an associate partner.

The festival of arts, faith and justice has been running since 1974 and this year’s focus is on Acts of the Imagination. If you buy your tickets before midnight on 30 April, you will save £35 on the price of an adult weekend ticket. Visit here to find out about other savings.

The URC enjoyed a very successful partnership at last year’s event with the inviting theme of ‘More than Welcome’. This time round, the URC will have ‘Pilgrimagination as its theme.

Pilgrimagination complements the overall Greenbelt theme of ‘Acts of the Imagination’ and brings together the spirit of Walking the Way – the URC’s focus on lifelong Christian discipleship.  The URC’s theme also connects with the ten habits of the Holy Habits book, which applies Acts 2 for personal and community life today. It focuses on how hope depends on imagination, and how pilgrimage depends on hope.

Plans are in hand for a range of exciting activities, including: a ‘Pilgrimage’ themed tent area filled with a craft garden and space to create and add to a growing display of hand-made creative flowers, a series of intentional conversations exploring our 'Pilgrimagination' theme, and our popular treasure hunt around the festival site looking at different stages of life's journeys. 


Pray, and let God worry says Dan Morrell, Immediate-Past Moderator of URC Youth Assembly 

Praying credit Naassom Azevedo UnsplashAt the back end of last year I went to Berlin for a solo holiday. It was mainly to make myself feel better and ease the jealousy about my sister travelling to Vietnam. But I’m certainly glad I did.

It wasn’t until I got to Berlin, and was sitting in my hostel planning my days, that I felt a sense of calling.

Last year was, of course, 500 years since Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 theses onto the doors to the church in Wittenberg, latterly named Lutherstadt-Wittenburg. It was to this place to which I felt a call. That morning, I impulsively bought a return ticket to Lutherstadt for the following day. So it was happening. I was going on a pilgrimage, visiting this site of huge religious significance to the church – the entire church.

On the train there I was questioning: “Why have I spent – particularly as a poor student – money on this? There are loads of free things to do in Berlin! And besides, I’m 21, I should be going clubbing, meeting new people in my hostel and taking endless ‘candid’ pictures in front of the Berlin Wall for my Instagram.” As the day went on, I was to discover why.

My walk from the station into the town centre was adorned by some of the 500 trees planted thanks to donations from Christian denominations around the world, predominantly Lutheran. It truly was an incredible sight.

As I spent the day visiting the museums, Luther’s house, the church in which he preached, a replica of the doors on which he nailed the theses (surprisingly they didn’t survive – have you tried putting 95 nails into a door?), I was still waiting for this monumental moment. Waiting for some kind of revelation to piece this visit together. Then, towards the end of my museum visit, I stumbled upon the words “Pray, and let God worry”.

Pray, and let God worry.

As you embark on pilgrimages, both physical and spiritual, well-known, or completely personal, and hopefully come and share with the URC’s theme of Pilgrimagination. Let’s not worry about where we’re going or how we’ll get there. Instead: pray, and let God worry.


Just how much can an act of the imagination achieve? Steve Tomkins, Editor of the United Reformed Church’s Reform magazine, explores 

Martin Luther King died 50 years ago this month saying he had seen the promised land. He never reached it but it was in view. He had been to the mountaintop.

Martin Luther King addresses crowd e1523980187373Dr King was a man of incredible vision, somehow managing to see a world of racial justice and equality in the middle of segregated 1950s Alabama. But faith gave him the vision and the vision made a way. He was, to get a bit U2 about it, ‘packing a suitcase for a place … that has to be believed to be seen’.

Believing is seeing. Transformation is an act of the imagination.

What would you see in the world where you live if you could go up the same mountaintop as Dr King? What promised land would you see in your own life?

At Greenbelt in 2018, United Reformed Church embarks on Pilgrimagination. (Yes, it’s a real thing. Starting from now.) We’ve got places to go, things to achieve, changes to make, people to become. Life is a pilgrimage.

And where are we going? To a place that isn’t there yet, a destination that has to be believed to be seen. The journey starts with an act of imagination.

As Christians who pray for God’s kingdom to come in the communities where we live, we’re wondering: Where do we go from here? What might happen next? What could we achieve? Who might we become?

The URC’s focus for its own church life this year is ‘Walking the way: Living the life of Jesus today’. It’s an emphasis on lifelong discipleship and mission. And alongside that personal journey, churches across Britain continue their week-by-week work of transforming their communities. They have a vision and are following where it leaves.

Join the URC at Greenbelt 2018 in a weekend of Pilgrimagination. Picture the place, walk the way.


Amazing response received for creative Greenbelt flowers

Members of the United Reformed Church, as young as four-years-old, have knitted, crocheted, and sewn hundreds of flowers for the Greenbelt festival.

The call to the denomination’s arts and craft enthusiasts, to help create a ‘garden’ and ‘path’ inside the takeaway with creatively made flowers, first went out in April and people have responded enthusiastically.

At Christ Church, Uxbridge, the youngest participant to help was aged just four, and the oldest in her 80s.

‘I was absolutely amazed at the response that I got for this project,’ said Christ Church member Denise Hinton, who organised the volunteers at her church. ‘It captured so many people's imaginations. Thank you for opportunity to take part in this. We've had a lot of fun.’

Linda Mead, Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator and member of the URC at Greenbelt steering committee, said the overall response received has been wonderful.

‘We have been amazed at the response from churches and individuals to the call to make flowers for Greenbelt,’ she said. ‘This will truly be a three nations URC tent.’

The steering committee has a range of activities planned for people of all ages to enjoy, including: stone painting, story-telling, conversations at the table, a Walking the Way garden, and cake and debate sessions.

With just a few weeks to go adult weekend tickets to the festival, which takes place between 24-27 August, now cost £190. Tickets for young people aged 18-25 are £129, and youth tickets are £105.

Concessions are available, visit Greenbelt for details.



Calling all arts and craft enthusiasts

Can you knit, crochet, sew, paint, or use fabrics to make things? Do you know someone who does? Maybe you have a Knit and Natter group at your church, or perhaps you’d like to start one ...

As part of this year’s theme of ‘Pilgrimagination’, an army of arts and crafts fans are needed to help create a ‘garden’ and ‘path’ inside the takeaway with creatively made flowers.

Flowers of all shapes, sizes and fabrics are welcome. You may want to make flowers which hold a particular significance, such as poppies, forget me nots or daffodils. Leaves are also needed.

Links to websites with free patterns are also available. For crochet flower patterns, see examples one, two, three, four and five. For knitted flowers, see patterns one, two, three, four and five. For material flowers, see one, two, three and four. For paper flower patterns see one, two, three and four.

Please leave a length of wool/thread left at the back of each flower so it can be tied onto either a stick or mesh.

For further details about where to send completed items, email Linda Mead