Greenbelt: what exactly is it?

We've done a little bit of reading and searched through various sections of the Web site, but we still don't quite get this Greenbelt business. The festival (if that's the right word) drew more than 20,000 people to a race track in Cheltenham, England, for three days of what seems to have been innovative worship and intriguing conversation--and the Church Times takes is seriously!--so we feel we should understand it better than we do.

Is it a good thing? Do we want one in America?

Comments (4)

If it's good enough for Bruce Cockburn, Anita Roddick, U2, and Rowan Williams, it's certainly good enough for me. Even Peter Tatchell has spoken there, and the notorious Nine O'Clock Service appeared there before making its way over to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, so this is no hotbed of right-wing politics or Contemporary Christian Music.

O please no don't even think of trying to replicate Greenbelt in the US it just won't work for precisely the reasons which Douglas has listed - its nothing to do with famous people - you have completely missed the mark by prefacing Peter Tatchell with the word EVEN - Greenbelt is an entirely natural place of Peter Tatchell to visit and be simply and unfussily welcomed and the reference to NOS is simply hilariously inappropriate. There is never likely to be a Greenbelt in the US cos you have no equivalent theological/political/artistic traditions within the Church. If you want to understand then come in 2009.

The difference is not in the absence of theological/political/artistic traditions in the church. Rather, it is in the culture of 'festivals' in Britain, which is not as prevalent in the US. I have a hard time imagining a draw of the kind of diverse crowd that can be assembled for events like that in the UK being the same in the US.

There are quite a few reasons Greenbelt wouldn't translate easily to the US. Scot Peterson's comments are very appropriate, and there's also a geographic element -- it's much easier to get people together in the UK.

That said, there are some similarities to Greenbelt in the Festivals of Faith and Writing and Faith and Music hosted at Calvin College ( and I've heard that Emergent and Sojourners are exploring setting up a Greenbelt-inspired event.

To answer the question of what Greenbelt is, you might like to check out the videos a group of us collected live at the festival this year. A number of them explicitly address the question of what Greenbelt is:

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