Back to reality after the festival season, Soul Survivor first-timer Revd Evelyn-Lee Barber, curate at Bath Abbey shares her experiences.
Being at New Wine and then moving onto Soul Survivor is what some may describe as being ‘too keen’. I’m used to ‘glamping’ at New Wine and having been for the last ten years I’ve got to the point of not even worrying about what weather will come our way; storms, flash floods and knee high mud, we’ve seen it all and we just know that God is good and that gets us through!
I’ve watched our children grow up at New Wine alongside their church friends, and then in turn work in groups supporting the little ones and those with learning disabilities. It’s also been a key part of my journey of faith and where I finally twigged hearing a calling to be a priest in the Church of England so going back is a bit like going home.
But Soul Survivor was new for me this year and I absolutely loved it. A bunch of six intrepid ‘Bath Abbeyites’ joined 10,000 teenagers under canvas in a field. We joined together from all over the UK to learn and to hear about Jesus, to worship him and to experience his presence through the Holy Spirit. Alongside that incredible gathering there were UV parties, silent discos, foam parties and bonfires. On the last night we all dressed up and went to the big top as characters from the nativity.
You may think we were just there having a lot of fun (which of course is true) but alongside that we were challenged to think about how we live out our faith with our character, how we can make a real difference in the world around us and be carriers of hope to others.
So if you have ever thought that the church is dying on its feet then you are WRONG! Come and see for yourself. Being in a place with so many young people is lively, vibrant, challenging and just plain fun. So we survived Soul Survivor; so much so that we are going again next year. Put the dates in your diary (13.17 August 2016), get yourself there and expect to be met by Jesus!
Just as an aside: lots of people in lots of tents is a great picture of the Kingdom of God! It always makes me think that the Israelites must have sighed a deep sigh when they had to pack up their tent and move once again; it’s such a lot of work. It’s no wonder at times we ‘re not that good at following- it really is a lot easier to stay where you are parked up in a field! So I can’t wait for the summer to come round again, and despite 20,000 others in their tents at New Wine I can always find peace and quiet which is probably the biggest surprise as to how that is ever possible!