28th September 2017

It's Friday evening and people are starting to turn up at Chapel Porth from across Devon, Cornwall, and beyond for the second ever Chill in a Field camp run by Area 1 Youth and the LIVE St Austell church plant. Those who attended were surprised to walk into the hall on the Adventist campsite to find it looked like a larger living room with sofas, beanbags, rugs, coffee tables, and a painting of a tree/cross on a large canvas as well as a real tree in the middle of the room. Dotted around the room were the instruments and the microphones ready to be picked up for the time of worship.

The speaker for the weekendwas none other than Pastor Sam Gungaloo who is known to be keen on anything that involves being creative and the use of imagination. So, IMG_7720when I, Steven Hulbert, called him up and told him the vision for the weekend he was game. Now, I said Sam was the speaker however my requirement from him was not to give us talks or sermons but rather to get every person in the room to engage in thought, discussion, and reflection – to engage with their own stories. As Edit Liebhardt put it, "I loved how the discussions helped us to build our own relationship with God and find our own thing God was trying to teach us. Not through someone else's story and eyes, but through our own eyes and relationship with God."

We gave everyone diaries and the space to reflect and write, or draw. We had the tree in the middle of the room to hang prayers written on tags or ribbons. We gathered on sofas and beanbags and joined in worship without a stage, "It was relaxing, IMG_7790chilled out, and a stress-free atmosphere," said John Ainsworth from Newbold, "it was more conversational, inclusive and interactive rather than a performance at the front and everyone sits and watches. I liked that it was more organic."

Gemma Hall from Plymouth church found it great the way everything was set up saying, "It was like someone's home." Which was exactly what Sam and I were going for in the vision for the camp, "This made me more comfortable to speak out and participate in the discussions, which I usually find difficult to do." Matthew Herman who is also from Plymouth church shares in these same reflections of camp by saying, "I felt more at home to talk about the topics." Arianne Haran who also did a musical item on the Sabbath morning said the same, "campers felt comfortable to share."

Other aspects of the weekend included great food, great conversations, an awesome walk on the Sabbath in the sunshine and the wind, and an 'Uno' tournament on the Saturday evening followed by some Mario-kart on the N64 late into the night.

The highlight came on the Sabbath evening as we shared worship IMG_7874and communion together, and everyone found out what the tree/cross on the large canvas created by Luisa Hulbert was for. A space was made for everyone to come up and place their fingers in some paint and bring the tree to life by putting their identity on it too so that what was once a symbol of death is now a symbol of life.

Sunday morning found us exploring the story of the barren fig tree in the Gospel of Luke chapter 13. Jennie Hall the Plymouth church Youth leader enjoyed how we dissected the Bible story together in a way she had never seen before "and will use in the future" she said. Everyone had a blank page they were instructed to leave at the beginning of the weekend in their diaries and Sunday morning was when they found out what it was for. In light of the discussion on Luke 13 and the journey we had taken over the weekend everyone was given time to fill that page, some wrote, some drew, and some coloured in and the weekend came to a close.

'Chill in a Field' is all about creating a space where we can have openness, honesty with ourselves and others, freedom to worship, and a feeling of community. Silvia Markek said "I liked the fact that during the worship and talks everybody was free to do their own thing and chill and spend time with God in their own way."

One of the joys was to see that every single person at the camp had contributed to the conversation at some point over the weekend. Jennie saw this when she said, "I think everyone felt included which means a very successful camp in my book. Great job! I can't wait for next year's camp."


[Steven Hulbert]

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