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23.8.15

Sign & Spirit: Post-Greenbelt?

Sign&Spirit now has its own web space - read more there

I have a couple of emails and other contacts asking if I will be at Greenbelt this year.

The answer is no.



But one comment stands out:
Alastair Newman2 days ago
Fr Eddy, I'd love to know where the Charismatic Catholic element of Greenbelt has gone! It seemed sadly devoid at Boughton House last year, and doesn't look like being anything like that this year either. A shame, a real shame.



Alastair was commenting on my Post from 2012 (Now on the legacy blog)
The term I kept hearing at Greenbelt this year was Charismatic Catholic, a fulfilment perhaps of my musings about Sacramental Renewal from last year. What is growing is not so much Catholic worship with the Charismatic tacked on but a deeper integration. For me to be Charismatic Catholic is to be Charismatic about the Sacraments, acknowledging the assured reality of them but being open to seeking a fuller encounter with God through them. For me to be Charismatic Catholic is to be Sacramental about the Charismata, recognising that the Spirit blows and the gifts operate in the Church without the cultural structure and excesses of the Charismatic movement. God speaks and we need to learn to listen. 
This is a two hand emerging spirituality, not only in adopting the ancient position of prayer rather than the secular inspired single arm waving which looks so unfortunate in press photos, but in recognising that the supernatural and worship ‘hand’ of the Charismatic finds its balance and fullness in sacramental orthodoxy.
Perhaps after 40 years this is where Greenbelt has brought us.

Three years on and many of the groups that expressed that two handed emerging spirituality are not at Greenbelt.  There has been no falling out or throwing of toys, indeed the Goth Eucharist will be there under Mthr. Skye Denno's leadership, but by the time the request came in I had already made other plans. In the move from one venue to another the space for a particular Sign & Spirit spirituality which has grown out of the Generation X + Y engagement has not transitioned well. The offers were made and they did not fit into the programme. Again I must re-iterate that this hasn't been intentional on anyone's part.

So what are the alternatives.

Firstly there is Sanctum, a small gathering that includes a number of people and groups who have been active in Sign and Spirit worship at Greenbelt over the last few years. This year we met at Mirfield and used there excellent multimedia lower church for worship, joining with the community for prayer where appropriate. It was strange (humbling?) to worship with only a couple of dozen using forms for which we had experienced 100's of people. Sanctum will return next year.

Secondly there is On Fire. On Fire has been running for many years at High Leigh in April, and offers a variety of worship, speakers and ministry. Although On Fire is rooted in the origins of Anglo-Catholic Charismatic renewal it has an eye towards the emerging Sign and Spirit movement. On Fire offers other events throughout the country.

Thirdly there is the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage. Clearly aimed at a particular age range, and tied up in tensions of the Shrine in regards to women's orders, none the less, it offers a unique space for creative sacramental worship and prayer.

I am privileged to be a part of a church community at All Saints that is rich in Sign & Spirit, but for many Greenbelt was a yearly opportunity to lift both hands together. None of these events quite fill the void that Greenbelt has left, especially for families together, or the particular emphasises of the emerging Sign and Spirit movement. It is possible that we could work alongside another Christian festival, although questions of inclusion (genders in leadership and covenant relationships) could be a barrier.

So there is still a space to be filled. The question is, who feels called to being part of filling it?