17 May 2010

Methodists to play a key role at Greenbelt Festival in new partnership

The Methodist Church will play a larger role than ever before at this year's Greenbelt Festival - Europe's longest running Christian event celebrating the arts, faith and justice.

The Church has sealed a three year partnership deal with Greenbelt organisers, which will see free tickets made available to Methodist ministers, deacons, preachers and worship leaders who have not attended the festival for the past five years. The free tickets, which must be claimed before 31July via the Greenbelt office, will be on offer during the first two years of the partnership.

Over time, the deal will allow the Methodist Church to have as influential a presence at the festival as the Department of International Development and Christian Aid - Greenbelt's existing major partners.

A Methodist-branded venue with a capacity to hold up to 400 people will feature at this year's Greenbelt for the first time. Seminar sessions on the theme of discipleship will run in the tent every morning during the August Bank Holiday weekend festival held at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Mark Wakelin, Secretary for Internal Relationships, said the new partnership will raise the profile of the Methodist Church within the ecumenical community and encourage discipleship.

"We are very excited about the potential of this partnership," said Mark Wakelin. "This is an opportunity for us to live out our shared ethos of ecumenical working, giving people the chance to experience new and creative expressions of faith; and grow as disciples of Christ".

An estimated 3,000 Methodists make up the 20,000 people who attend Greenbelt every year.

Gawain Hewitt, Festival Director, said: "The Methodist Church and Greenbelt both have a history steeped in a commitment to social justice and community engagement. We also share a commitment to dialogue, trade justice, environmental and development issues and human rights. Ideologically, it's a perfect partnership, and practically it makes sense too. Around 15 per cent of people on site are Methodists. This partnership will allow these relationships to be strengthened and help the Methodist Church to engage with a much broader audience."

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