Why I won’t be going back to Greenbelt

One long summer as a student, lots of lovely holiday, and two Christian camps. I worked at both New Wine and Greenbelt (in radically different roles) and I was surprised by how different they are. I guess in comparing the two I need to add the caveat that we go to New Wine annually with wonderful friends, and it is 20 years since I went to Greenbelt. It is always easier to appreciate the merits of a system one knows and understands. None the less, I find myself quite down on Greenbelt, and this is why…

There is a strong pro-Palestinian emphasis at Greenbelt, which was not interpreted. I think it has been in the past, but this year at Greenbelt, it was not. I cannot comment on the Greenbelt leadership’s support or otherwise of Israel, but without interpretation, the publicity gave leave for anti-Israeli sentiments to flourish. I heard them vocalised often. The situation there is simply too complex to offer only one side of the war.

I missed collective prayer and worship. Sunday morning’s service felt musically pedestrian and was made ‘creative’ by an abundance of unrelated symbolism. There was little in the way of prayer ministry, and an emphasis on maintaining Greenbelt, rather than a proactive challenge to a group of rich, educated Christians to get out there and change the world.

I’ll leave the little grips (queuing, prices, consumerism, commercialism!). And I’m glad there are people who benefit from Greenbelt, and have their faith enlarged by it. But I won’t be going back.

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  1. Martin Hodgson’s avatar

    I was at the morning service and the music was certainly not pedestrian it was great, you can’t compare New Wine and Greenbelt. I loved the morning service. The Childrens choir were so good we are still talking about it. There’s no doubt Greenbelt have some strange ideas but its a great little festivale to go to, I will definitley go back despite the dreadful queues !

  2. adrian’s avatar

    I think you can compare Greenbelt with New Wine. Not as events in themselves, but you can compare the extent to which each is willing to experiment in worship, and the underlying and overriding ethos.

    Maybe New Wine is about “equipping and refreshing the church” while Greenbelt is perhaps about “celebrating the creativity of all God’s people.” But you can do that innovatively, and with a conscious attempt to make provision for, and include the excluded.

    The surprise was to find, in this blogger’s view anyway, that New Wine seemed to be doing that better than Greenbelt.

  3. Martin Clay’s avatar

    Hi, You will be interested in our stall at Greenbelt. We have been complimented as offering a less one sided view as Musalaha is determinedly not taking sides in the conflict in the holy land, even though/ becasue it is composed of both Palestinian and Jewish christians.

    Greenbelt have welcomed us too, acknowledging at the pro-palestinian bias can tip over into an unnuanced anti Israel stance.

    My personal views are pro-justice – I don’t see how one can’t be as a christian, but nonetheless that is my personal view and I will share this, but as my view not Musalaha’s. Musalaha is Arabic for reconciliation. see Musalaha.org for for more. I am not a blogger so I am best contacted by email.

    ps – its our second year at Greenbelt and this year was our our first at New Wine.

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