Well, I managed a whole day at New Wine without any rain! My thoughtful line manager had texted me to say that he ‘hopes it rains so you have an authentic experience’. Thankfully this was not the case.
I visited our St John’s Group at lunchtime on Thursday 8th August and found them dry, warm and happy. Here’s what they had to say:
Helen Baines on her best experience of the week: “Pete Hughes speaking on ‘Living Life to the Full’.” Pressing her for a bit more detail she said it was about matching Jesus’ life journey in the gospels with that of the Israelites. She also added that she had been “blessed with being cooked for.” Judging by what I saw I think she also blessed a lot of parents by helping to look after their children.
Continuing on the children theme Greg Willis gave us a very profound comment when asked about family life at New Wine: “Over the years I have come to realise that I have more children than I thought I had; and that the children have a lot more parents than they thought they had.” The extended family at work I thought, and there were nods of agreement all round.
Fran Varley was pleased that the “100% guaranteed all day rain that had been forecast for Monday did not happen” but was sad that the morning bible readings had been exchanged for stand alone talks with different speakers”. This was new this year, so I guess ‘they’ would be glad of hers and others feedback on this.
Later I caught up with Village Hosts, Jane and Richard Lovell. This was their first year in the role so I was interested to hear what they had to say. Richard said that: “at the beginning it was all about making sure people were pitched, dry and where they wanted to be camped in the village”. It was obvious he had carried this out as there was much talk of him helping people to pitch their tents in the rain; and while we were sitting there three tent pegs that had been lent were returned!
Jane felt it was all about making sure people were happy and feeling included. She added that it was “good to be able to spend time with the church family who you would not normally have time to speak to at church. Also to meet people from other churches and to catch up with old friends”. (The Delves – pictured right, and the Hocking families were camping with St John’s village).
There were 70 people from St John’s at New Wine this year, 12 family groups and some others camping on their own, but they seemed well linked into one or more of these groups at lunchtime when I visited.
Reflecting on the children’s work at New Wine both Steve and Richard felt that there was nothing to beat it anywhere in the country. They told me that: “There are approximately 5000 children at New Wine this year. They arrive expectant and eager for the children’s groups. For them it is a wonderful experience of not being in the minority – as is the case in their classroom or school. This is a very positive experience for them which builds up their faith”.
Asking for a picture which might represent the children at New Wine, I got one word: Bikes! So we lined up some of the children from St John’s and took a picture. Certainly the show ground is a wonderful and safe place to ride a bike.
Final word from a former Village Host, Julia Savage who had exchanged her role to that of a steward: “Its good to have a specific job to do.”
Day visitors Sue Clegg and Antony Spencer enjoying hospitality.