Largest gathering of festivalgoers for over four years

Greenbelt Festival “best yet”

2002. An annual four-day Christian carnival held in Britain over August 23 – 26 hit capacity attendances this year.

Greenbelt Chairperson Jude Levermore says the festival has been their “best yet” at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire. The 12,000 festivalgoers are the largest gathering at Greenbelt for over four years.

“We’ve hit capacity and we’ll be looking to increase our licence capacity next year”, Ms Levermore says.

“I hope we’ve breathed life into thousands of souls and inspired people to greater intimacy with our Creator and each other.”

The Christian festival has been operating for 29 years, starting as a small pop festival for youth groups and emerging as an inclusive event for people of all ages and from diverse church backgrounds. The theme of this year’s festival was the “kiss of life”.

Archbishop of Canterbury elect Rowan Williams emphasised on closing night that public opinion could halt a conflict between Iraq and the USA and he led calls for United States President George Bush and Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Bair to turn back from war. After the festival, three thousand Greenbelters signed a petition against military action that was delivered to Mr Blair at No 10 Downing Street.

Archbishop Williams and Joy Carroll, the inspiration for the British television comedy series Vicar of Dibley, presided over Sunday morning’s communion service. They danced with festivalgoers as the service ended.

Music was played over eight stages, with popular Christian band Delirious top billing on the final night.

Greenbelt partners with church agency, Christian Aid, who runs a campaign project every year on site. This year, 50,000 pounds was raised for Christian Aid’s HIV/AIDS projects across the world. This was the biggest communion offering in Greenbelt’s history.

Christian Aid staged a candlelit vigil on Saturday night as part of their programme to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

Nicky Nicholls of Christian Aid said they have been trying to show people the links between the increase in HIV/AIDS and poverty.

“Campaigning for new trade rules actually will have an impact on the spread of the virus – and we think people are getting the message.”

 

By Peter Veugelaers.

Published 2002, Challenge Weekly.

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