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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, July 24, 2002
    My Greenbelt story, briefly
    Spotty teen in a Liverpool Baptist church youth club. I went to GB with my mate Dave, on a then-epic motorcycle journey. Headline: Cliff Richard; best act for me: Randy Stonehill/Larry Norman. Sunday Morning communion, preacher stood and said, ÒIf you think Jesus died for you, you can share in this breadÓ. I kinda felt I should; something massive started for me there.

    Early 80s
    Politicised and thrilled into a living faith by the social gospel coming out of people like Frontier Youth Trust's Jim Punton and America's Ron Sider. Saw U2 for first time at Liverpool Royal Court and, electrified, thought, 'I'm going to heaven with these guys'. The connection between all these, of course, was Greenbelt. Attended each year with increasingly large groups from Crosby. One year 130 of us travelled to Knebworth together.

    Mid 80s
    Thatcher decimated the manufacturing industry and, with many others in my part of the world, made me unemployed; I took A-levels and went on to do a degree in English, meanwhile supplementing my income by writing regularly for Strait, the Greenbelt magazine. Disillusioned, left the church at this time, but still found faith & hope in the festival's vision. Studied under John Peck College House's 'Christian Worldview' course.

    Late 80s
    Back to church via youth work in CofE parish. Halcyon days taking inspiration from Greenbelt friends and performers and applying them locally - notably our own monthly dressed-up disco version of Pip's Rolling Magazine and various experiments in 'alternative' worship, encouraged and inspired by Glaswegian friends.

    Went on the first Greenbelt pilgrimage to Iona (1992): another epiphany for me - I'm now a member of the Iona Community. And less than a year later answered a call from then-festival manager Martin Evans to take a place on the Greenbelt board. Awed and inexperienced but full of enthusiasm, spent the next five years helping coordinate a diversity of GB activities, notably the 24-hour cafe, publicity, the action fair, and worship. Immense honour to be so involved. Immensely grateful to those who carried on after I left, keeping the festival afloat through its most testing time.

    The only GB I've missed since my first. Halfway through my time at Ridley Hall training for the Anglican ministry. I was working a month on Iona, which was good, but my heart still ached at having to forgo the Bank Holiday experience.

    Part of the SOUL SPACE team, turning the Panoramic Restaurant into a beautiful place of prayer and contemplation, offering people half-hour conversations with one of our team of 'spiritual directors', where Greenbelters talk through anything on their minds with someone with a caring, listening ear. Favourite artists last year: that mad magician bloke Andy Turner had on his late night shows; oh, and Baka Beyond. Wonderful. All of it. Bring it on again.