A Christian Festival for Sheffield

I spent 3 days last week in Stuttgart in Germany as a guest of the something called the Kirchentag. It’s a great gathering of Protestant Christians from all across Germany.  There were 30,000 active participants and over 100,000 visitors to different events all across the city.  The programme is half an inch thick and includes conversations on every possible subject.

I was there to meet with German pioneers and to take part in a seminar on the English experience of forming fresh expressions of church. But the whole event got me thinking….  Why can’t we do something on this scale in Sheffield?

So how about an annual Sheffield Christian Festival?  One which tries to draw together every stream of the Christian church in the city and region and celebrates our common faith?  A blend of Greenbelt and Taizé and New Wine and Soul Survivor and Spring Harvest and Walsingham only right here in this city and region.  Can you imagine it?

Sheffield is already a city renowned for its festivals.  We have DocFest and a live music festival and a comedy festival annually. We have strong local festivals in many parts of the city.  Why not a celebration of Christian faith right here where we are?

I’ve been reflecting for some time on the absence of strong Christian festivals in the north of England, especially since the demise of New Wine North a couple of years ago.  I’ve been trying to imagine how we could start slowly and build something here: perhaps camping out on Doncaster racecourse or Beauchief Abbey.

But camping is not really that appealing.  And it would be hard to offer something for everyone in a single event or style.  So how about something stretching over a long weekend which draws people into the city and celebrates all the different churches have to offer?  Isn’t it the kind of thing a humble, confident church should be doing?

Almost 25 years ago the churches of this city and region combined in a remarkable way for Mission England.  Many still remember that as a high point of collaboration.  There was much fruit.  Over the last couple of months there has been a new beginning with church leaders from different streams coming together to pray.  Perhaps the idea of a City Festival is part of the answer.

I’m the kind of person who sometime has ten ideas before breakfast.  Not all of them are good ones.  Those who work with me sometimes bear the scars and have learned to sit on me from time to time.

But every so often, there’s one which is worth pursuing.  How about it?  An ecumenical, regional, annual Festival of Christian Faith in Sheffield to build up the churches, to strengthen faith and discipleship, to witness to our common faith, to celebrate God’s love and make an impact across our region.  First one in 2017?

Let me know what you think either by posting a comment or by email.

+Steven Sheffield

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15 Comments on "A Christian Festival for Sheffield"

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Carol Lee
Guest

I think it is a fantastic idea

David Stout
Guest

Let’s do it! I love the idea of descending on the Abbey, and our broad range of Christian expressions mixed with the ‘big village’ feel that Sheffield is strong in would make for a great celebratory festival. We have such a lot to offer each other and the city, let’s make it happen.

Roy Venables St Michael`s Rossington
Guest
Roy Venables St Michael`s Rossington
A good idea. I recall sharing a stage with you and others at a theatre in Bochum (I think) just a few days after you became Bishop of Doncaster when you and your wife joined our Hattigen/Witten Group. Hundreds of children were rehearsing for a musical and we oldies were invited up to the stage and you were pressed without notice to say something. What stuck in my mind was not only your ability to actually say something but also the sea of juvenile faces staring no doubt wonderingly up at us. I`m an old style church goer but even… Read more »
Nick Jowett
Guest

I think that the future of religious gathering (as opposed to private and personal expression) may well be no longer the weekly or even the daily round, but big gatherings once or twice a year. The success of the Kirchentage or Greenbelts seems to show this as possible. It would be interesting to know how many people who go to these do not at other times regularly participate in church life, or whether they are just an opportunity for scattered already-committed Christians to come together in morale-boosting numbers. Either way, I think this a great idea for Sheffield.

Dee Gee
Guest

A Crucible and/or Forge event perhaps, timed to pick up spare Student Halls space. You might aim for 2017 and say something about Unity at a time when disunity is likely to be rife. And while you want to start slowly, do aim big. These events work well only when they get above a critical mass. As you know, ideas are easy as long as you don’t try to act on them! Now – can you find a small competent team mad enough to try? As to crowd-pullers…..here’s to your Full Monty reprise.

Ian Webb
Guest

A great idea! To say that camping is not my cup o tea is an understatement but I’ve not long come back from the Big Church Day Out (near Brighton ) and that was camping…and it was a great weekend. A weekend camping keeps the cost down for folk. The North needs something like this.

Geoffrey Daniel
Guest

A very appealing idea … perhaps stage a festival during the somewhat moribund Week of Prayer for Christian Unity? There’s plenty of scope for celebrating our differences. I gleaned from Central Library some years ago a list of denominations around the city and I think I counted 37 …

Huw Thomas
Guest

A great idea for children and schools.

Gay Riley
Guest

Yes we need something in this region now we have lost New Wine at Newark. So a great idea. We just need to sort out the details!!!!!!!

Musa Bako
Guest

This is really exciting. It’s a great idea and will want to see happens. Yes let’s go for it

Ann Humphreys
Guest

A great idea, I too went to the Big Church day out and read here that Tim Jupp (the organiser) is hoping to set one up in the north of England someday. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/why.the.church.needs.big.church.day.out/54616.htm Some thing like this could be part of our festival.

Simon Copley
Guest

I love this. What about a Passion Play as part of it? Maybe in modern dress and re-contextualized and rewritten, and moving around the City Centre to bring home the relevance of the Gospel to modern life?

Jonathan Buckley, YMCA
Guest
Jonathan Buckley, YMCA

I think it’s a great idea – I / we at the YMCA would be happy being involved 🙂

James Barnes
Guest

Schedule a meeting to throw ideas round and I’ll be there. Please follow through! Peace.

Julie and Rog Walters, Sheffield Burn 24/7
Guest
Julie and Rog Walters, Sheffield Burn 24/7

Just seen this post – and felt rather exited, as it is a yearning and dreaming of ours to be part of a bigger event in the north. we at Sheffield Burn could offer the co-ordination of a 24/7 worship space for the event. We have lots of connections across denomination with local worship leaders and musicians and could pull some thing together.