Why does Anglican Mainstream think it has the right to attack Greenbelt and accuse it of being one-sided and post-orthodox Christian? It’s because Anglican Mainstream and allies think that they alone are orthodox and hold the true faith. Anglican Mainstream’s self-identity is arrogant and abusive. They are right and any group which welcomes LGBT people in any way is wrong. It doesn’t matter whether LGBT people are single and celibate and conform to the teaching of the church. As Phelim comments on the previous post, gay identity is false identity for Mainstream.
As Anglican Mainstream continues its campaign of attack against Greenbelt I thought I’d take a look at the website to see how Greenbelt understands itself. http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/about/
Greenbelt’s mission statement describes it as “an independent Christian charity working to express love, creativity and justice in the arts and contemporary culture in the light of the Christian gospel.”
The web site says it was “a dream born on the unsettled non-conformist edges of the church during the early 1970s.” Greenbelt “was about a 24/7 faith, it was a theology with ‘no-splits’…”
It gained a reputation for introducing people to the UK church who came from places where the struggle for justice was more pressing than, say, ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit’. Artists were invited because their vision overlapped with the biblical one of global justice or engaging with political powers or was simply fuelled by a divine sense of wonder.
Greenbelt has cemented its partnership with Christian Aid, translating debate about political engagement and international justice into vigorous campaigning. CMS, SPCK, USPG, YMCA, ICC and the Church Times have collaborated with this. They have helped Greenbelters re-imagine the church as an infectious global conspiracy, working for God’s peace, healing and friendship in previously unimagined ways. This is Greenbelt today.
Changing Attitude supporters and trustees are involved with Greenbelt. It is an event which is safe for LGBT people and which offers creative resources for our spiritual nourishment. Greenbelt inspires Christians who have a passion for justice. It brings together people from wildly diverse traditions and who experience God in a rainbow variety of ways.
Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel attended and spoke at Greenbelt in the seventies and eighties. They now accuse Greenbelt of having become an indiscriminate market place with an ethos Greenbelt no longer consistent with the Christian gospel.
CMS, defending it’s involvement against the Mainstream attack, says Greenbelt is a brilliant platform from which to offer hospitality and share the gospel.
Greenbelt continues to offer thousands of people, many of them on the fringes of the church, an experience which encourages them in the faith and restores their confidence in God. Changing Attitude wouldn’t dream of trying to dictate what Greenbelt should be or who it should invite. It is what it is, and we rejoice in it’s openness, diversity and passion.
Greenbelt resonates with people’s experience of God in the UK in the 21st century far more than Anglican Mainstream will ever do. In attacking Greenbelt, Mainstream simply reveals more of its prejudices, offends more people, strengthens Changing Attitude’s resolve to work for justice and shows how marginal it is to the faith experiences of the majority in the UK.