In some conservative church traditions they claim you can lose your faith in one of two ways: study theology in a secular university or go to Greenbelt. Well after a muddy weekend at Cheltenham I have now done both. And my faith is still intact.
This was my first time. In fact it was my first Christian festival of any kind and my first had to be Greenbelt. Having been on a journey out of conservative Christianity for the past five years I knew that the next step for me was to immerse myself in a sea of dangerous liberalism. I hadn’t bargained for that becoming more than a metaphor in Cheltenham’s downpour – but the experience did prove to be dangerous, just not in the same way as some conservatives would have expected.
Seeing a bigger Jesus; called to a simpler life; un-rooting anger from the heart; learning to be satisfied with what I have – all challenges that soaked my spirit. None of it has changed me yet; I can still choose to walk away. And yet the passion for Jesus and his way that I saw walking around that wet field in many whose theology was wetter than the weather will not leave me alone. I used to think that to find passion you had to go to a gathering of conservatives. But actually you can be passionate and progressive.
My first ever Greenbelt. However did I manage to miss it for so long? I can’t wait till next year – though by then I will have changed even more.
Dyfed has recently stepped down from his paid leadership role at a small charismatic church on the island of Anglesey, north Wales. He currently works at the Countryside Council for Wales and blogs at dyfedwynroberts.org.uk.