Network Norwich and Norfolk > Regional News > Latitude Festival appeals for Norfolk pastors

Latitude Festival appeals for Norfolk pastors

FestivalPastorsLat13v2Over a blazing extended weekend East Anglia’s Latitude 2013 saw almost 35,000 people enjoying the eighth year of the increasingly popular music, arts and culture festival, near Southwold with the help of Festival Pastors.

The outreach of Festival Pastors, mainly from Suffolk, working across areas of the site considered of greatest popularity and also concern for festival goers’ wellbeing, was so highly valued that they are now extending an appeal for reinforcement from Norfolk next year.

Festival Pastors attended Latitude for the third time this year.  The team offered outreach and shepherding at the festival. Since their initial involvement a good relationship has been built with the festival organisers, who have clearly seen the benefit of their work. This year as well as providing a cafe in the main festival village the Pastors have been permitted to go out and about across the entire, vast festival site, and have become a tangible and trusted presence.  

The cafe provides the cheapest refreshments on the festival site, in a large, cool tent decorated with calming murals reflecting aspects of God’s gifts: life, faithfulness, joy, peace etc. A team of volunteers are on hand to chat with festival revellers and offer any assistance needed – most often an ear and the chance for a ‘deeper level of conversation, by stimulating spiritual thought’. The cafe also raises funds for future outreach work. 

Out and about the Pastors have been particularly visible this year, for the first time, within ‘The Woods’ – a soft, inviting thicket containing several performance and dance stages. The Woods are the place to go after the main stages’ acts have finished late at night. There are several distinct aspects to The Woods; light panel art works, big screens and projections, a couple of dance stages, a bar and a toilet block. The area is busy during the daytime, but absolutely packed after midnight. Individuals and groups wander around to explore and discover new things, sit amongst the trees, socialise, dance, drink and remain stimulated until the early hours. Alongside those having a good time it is easy to find those who have ‘overloaded’ and become lost, either through excess, ill health or literally becoming separated from friends. There are many young people experiencing a new hyper-environment without guardians, and others who have overindulged, all of whom welcome someone caring to talk to them, ask them how they are and if they need anything, and help them out.

In the years preceding the Pastor’s presence serious crimes were beginning to be registered each year of the festival. Every time the Pastors move into a new area crime there has halted. Christian outreach workers from other large events visited Festival Pastors at Latitude this year to learn from their good example of getting it right, including The Big Church Day Out and Street Angels.

PaulDaltryLatitudeFestPast350Reverend Canon Paul Daltry, co-founder and chair of Suffolk Town Pastors, said: “The woman on this poster exemplifies why we are here. We found her in the mud – totally covered, she was at her lowest point and couldn’t get out of it herself.  We found a wheelbarrow and eventually got her to the Welfare Tent. That’s a simple illustration of caring for people, and exhibiting God’s love. More broadly, we aim to break down prejudice against Christianity – to be relevant and to break people open and explore their spiritual side. There is a lot of opportunity for that here.”

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