Monday, 13 August 2018

Welcome to Walsingham! Building a Welcoming Church

By Annabel Ward

In the run up to the festival, we're talking to our team about how why they're passionate about building their corner of the festival. Today we're talking to Annabel Ward, who has been co-coordinating hospitality- a major element for any festival! Here's what she had to say.

What do you remember about your first Walsingham festival?

'I came to my first Walsingham festival when I was about ten, the main thing I remember from then was the complete freedom. My parents knew we were very safe, it was like being part of one huge family, so we were able to roam around the fields for five days. That sense of total freedom is something that has always remained with me at youth 2000. The festival is an opportunity to be completely yourself, free from the stresses of life and you can take such comfort in the fact you are joining a big family.'

How did you end up getting involved with the team?

'I’ve always wanted to give back to Youth 2000, and this year seemed like the perfect opportunity. This year I’ve been on a personal journey, and I really feel called to help bring people into relationship with God.'

Why is welcome so important for the church?

'First impressions count. I heard a quote this year “belong, believe, behave”. This means that for people to feel part of the church they must first feel part of the community, it’s from there that people can develop their faith.

I think the Catholic Church at times gets a negative reputation for its welcome, and I feel passionate about changing this and showing the World what the church is actually about- community.'

What was your experience of this at Alpha?

'I went to Alpha at HTB (the church which started it) and I was blown away by the welcome. There were so many volunteers on welcome and registration and I just felt so cared for. When I arrived I was signed in, then someone took me to meet my group leader and from there showed me where to get food etc. It just made me feel immediately at ease.'

What would you say to someone thinking about coming?

'For anyone not sure about whether to come to the festival I’d really encourage you to take that leap of faith and come along! You’ll meet wonderful people all of which are on the same journey as you, and you may even make friends for life- I know I have! We have a wonderful welcome team ready to greet you and show you around, and we would love to have you join us. You never know, coming along could change your life!'

You can book onto the Walsingham Summer Festival right here:


Thursday, 2 August 2018

'Share the Joy' : Let's Talk Festival Theme

An Interview with Barbara Onuonga

In the run up to the festival, we're talking to our team about how they're involved in and why they're passionate about their area. First up is our OG friend Babs, who has been co-coordinating the theme and content of this years festival - no small job! Here's what she had to say.

What do you remember about your first Walsingham festival?

'I remember arriving super harassed because life was so hectic and overwhelming. I guess I needed quiet and for someone to listen to what was going on with me. To my surprise, I found that person was Jesus and spent most of Walsingham in the throne room just sitting in front of Jesus in the Eucharist for ages!'

How did you end up getting involved with the team and why are you passionate about the content of the festival?

'I went to a prayer group in East London and was asked to join the leadership team after a short while. I’m passionate about content because I think the journey of the festival is much the same to the journey we have in our daily lives. We come to the festival in a messy and sometimes chaotic place and that’s cool because the journey of the festival is to meet each person where they are at and let Jesus speak truth into who they are. That’s the main purpose of content – to go on this incredible  journey together.'

What’s the process for picking the theme and the speakers for the festival? 

'Picking a theme is a process of trust and prayer! Different people pray about what God is speaking to us in this moment and as a team we discern the words that have been given an listen to the promptings of the Spirit. The theme comes to us in a different way each year and it is certainly a process of patient trust.

We pick speakers through prayer and forming relationships through the year. It really is a year round process that comes to fulfilment at the festival. The best bit is sharing the theme and having conversations about the journey of the festivals. You can sense the excitement and it is such a working of the Holy Spirit.'

Why is ‘share the joy’ the core of this years festival?

'We picked it because it speaks of how Mary’s yes in the annunciation led to the joy of receiving Jesus. And furthermore, once she had received Jesus, she immediately went out to visit her cousin and share that joy. That is what we are called to do – say yes to Joy and then go out and share it with others.'

Do you remember a great talk from a previous Walsingham festival that helped you a lot?

'That’ a tough question! If I had to pick, probably a talk on reconciliation a few years ago by Meg Hunter Kilmer. I just knew how much I needed God and how much he wanted me close to him. Mercy became personal for me that year.'

What would you say to someone thinking about coming?

'Don’t hesitate! I love Youth 2000 because it is family. We are inviting you to take a risk and step into a community of joy and be ready to have a wild time!'

You can book onto the Walsingham Summer Festival right here:

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