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Reform Magazine | October 23, 2017

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Editorial: Reform at Greenbelt

steve_tomkinsThis summer Reform went to Greenbelt festival. Charissa and I, and our team of elves,* spent the bank holiday weekend introducing festivalgoers to the magazine.

On the first day we got lots of scowls from passersby. Then I went on the late night show called Last Orders, and talked about how Reform was, despite its name, not the organ of the Anglican anti-women pressure group, but a diverse and friendly magazine published by the United Reformed Church. The next day loads of people came back and apologised for the misunderstanding and scowling, and went off with a copy of the magazine. We put up a poster saying “Not that Reform”.

It was a great experience being at Greenbelt, because most of the thousand people we talked to were coming across Reform for the first time, and, gratifyingly, were interested and impressed.

But then it’s always a great experience being at Greenbelt – a unique alchemy of music, theology, art, discussion, challenge and possibility. I banged on about it for a whole article in June (“God’s Playground: Greenbelt at 40”), so I won’t go on again.

Except to say that what struck me this time is the common ground between Greenbelt and the URC. They seem to me to share a spirit of inclusivity, activism, questioning, diversity and engagement with the world. But the URC doesn’t have much of a profile there at the moment.

I’d like to do something about that. Reform will be back at Greenbelt next year, and it would be great if that could be part of a bigger URC presence. Something really noticeable, that lets people know what the URC is and what it’s doing. Something that shows 20,000 Greenbelters that what they value about Greenbelt is also going on week by week in the URC.

What form that presence might take is a subject for a lot of deliberation and discussion. Please let us have your thoughts, if this is a subject of any interest to you. (If it isn’t, let us have your thoughts on a different subject. That’s how we have the best letters page in Christendom.)

And perhaps you’d be interested in taking part. Whatever happens, Reform will be at Greenbelt, so if you’d a like a free ticket to the whole festival in return for being an elf for a day, do let us know.

*No elves were on the team.

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This article was published in the October 2013 edition of  Reform.

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