If Jesus loves festivals shouldn’t we?
Inspired by the article ‘Jesus Loves Festivals’, Revd Amanda Evans packed her camping stove, tent and courage to slip on a pair of Festival Angel wings – more of a T-shirt and Hi-Viz jacket to be fair – and headed to Boardmasters last summer.
Amanda is the assistant curate at Mabe and Ponsanooth and was searching for a way to get out there, to meet and connect with young people and to get a better sense of what mission might look like among them. A music festival seemed like the perfect place.
“I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed being with lots of young people. To have the types of conversations only possible with those whose life (seemingly) stretches out endlessly ahead of them!” Boardmasters didn’t disappoint.
The key to being a Festival Angel is compassion
The site swelled to around 45,000 people each day, a quarter of whom were aged 16/17 and most of whom were there to party. “The key to being an Angel is compassion. It’s about not judging, but meeting people where they are, even in the mess, and rolling up your sleeves to do whatever practical is necessary to help,” says Amanda.
“It’s about not judging, but meeting people where they are, even in the mess, and rolling up your sleeves to do whatever practical is necessary to help,” says Amanda.
Festival Angels will see life at its best and not-so-best. They hope to be a trusted, reassuring presence, to try to keep people safe and offer practical assistance. “We’re not medics, but we can help to get people to safety. We hand out plasters, water and sometimes bananas!”
The first few days of Boradmasters saw Amanda lugging camping equipment across the site, helping to put up tents in the boiling sunshine and then helping to peg them down as the wind and rain swept in. “People are so surprised to be offered help, for free. Many of the festival goers are very young and have travelled a very long way – it can be overwhelming.”
One young girl burst into tears when Amanda pitched in to sort out her camping dilemma, saying she was just like her mum. “They might feel grown-up, but the reality of being in a vastly over-populated space, having to fend for yourself and navigate through what can be a challenging, very loud free-for-all without the safety-net of familiar adults can be extremely daunting.”
What would Jesus do?
There is always debate about whether Christians should be in places like festivals. There’s a simple response – what would Jesus do? You can bet He’d be right there, in the thick of it. Helping, coming alongside people, on hand to chat, encourage or just to be.
There are plenty of fringe benefits to being a Festival Angel at Boardmasters – the chance to see, this year, the likes of Florence and the Machine or Franz Ferdinand, the amazing location over-looking the sea and the surfing competitions. As Amanda says, “No one can complain about our young people not being in our Cornish churches if we don’t take the opportunities to be where they are.”
“No one can complain about our young people not being in our Cornish churches if we don’t take the opportunities to be where they are.”
“It was a lot of fun,” she says. “Utterly exhausting, but brilliant. I loved how the young people queued up to have selfies in front of our big ‘Jesus Loves Festivals’ poster. Endless opportunities to chat and, crucially, to listen.”
This year the Boardmaster Angels are hoping to have a roving, detached team and a team to help in a new-for-this-year prayer tent.
To find out more about volunteering click here