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

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

The Church has sealed a three year partnership deal with Greenbeltorganisers, which will see free tickets made available to Methodistministers, deacons, preachers and worship leaders who have notattended the festival for the past five years. The free tickets,which must be claimed before 31July via the Greenbelt office, willbe on offer during the first two years of the partnership.

Over time, the deal will allow the Methodist Church to have asinfluential a presence at the festival as the Department ofInternational Development and Christian Aid - Greenbelt's existingmajor partners.

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

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

"We are very excited about the potential of this partnership," saidMark Wakelin. "This is an opportunity for us to live out our sharedethos of ecumenical working, giving people the chance to experiencenew and creative expressions of faith; and grow as disciples ofChrist".

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

Gawain Hewitt, Festival Director, said: "The Methodist Church andGreenbelt both have a history steeped in a commitment to socialjustice and community engagement. We also share a commitment todialogue, trade justice, environmental and development issues andhuman rights. Ideologically, it's a perfect partnership, andpractically it makes sense too. Around 15 per cent of people onsite are Methodists. This partnership will allow theserelationships to be strengthened and help the Methodist Church toengage with a much broader audience."