Organised by the Diocese of Canterbury, The Gathering is a two-day festival of faith designed to be thought-provoking and entertaining, as well as surprising; and all within a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. With high-profile speakers and leading theologians, wonderful worship and Bible study, as well as a host of creative and children’s activities, The Gathering brings together clergy and laity, from across the Diocese for an experience that all can enjoy.
The Revd Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, the Director of the Diocese of Canterbury’s Communities and Partnerships Network, who convenes the team organising the event, says that the programme for 2013 is very exciting:
This will be our third Gathering, and our theme this year is all about Re-Imagining: our Church, our ministry, our community, our spirituality, and ourselves. The organising group has approached speakers who can explore this theme in its broadest terms. It’s meant we have some superb people coming to The Gathering, who I know will be an inspiration to everyone.
Just some of those names to look forward to are: Melvyn Bragg, who returns to his fascination with the social and literary impact of the King James Bible by offering a fresh perspective on William Tyndale; and Fabrice Muamba, the former Bolton Wanderers’ footballer, who will speak about faith in football, the power of prayer, and how he has had to reassess his own life following his astounding recovery from a massive heart attack at the age of 24 in 2012.
Further fascinating insights will come from scholars such as: the Revd Dr Will Lamb, Vice-Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge; the Revd Dr Alison Milbank, professor at the University of Nottingham’s Theology and Religious Studies Department; the Very Revd Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury; the Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen, Principal of the South East Institute of Theological Education; and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kent and eminent scientist, Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow.
Some familiar faces from around the Cathedral will also be participating, with the Very Reverend Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury offering two reflection’s on pilgrimage, and the Revd Canon Christopher Irvine, on Re-imagining God’s Word through Art.
There will be no excuse for the half-term blues either, as Canon Caroline Pinchbeck explains:
On the Saturday, we’ve a host of activities to inspire creativity for everyone to enjoy, such as a giant image of the Cathedral made out of Lego. It’s been especially designed for The Gathering by the UK’s only certified Lego professional and it contains some 51,400 bricks, so we will need as many people as possible to help put it together.
Hornby are also putting on a special display. It will be quite amazing to see model trains whizzing around the Nave, and with two music and entertainment shows especially designed for young people as well, we are sure there is enough to keep everyone busy.
Booking a ticket is not the only way to be part of the event. Volunteers have been an essential part of previous Gatherings, and this year is no exception. The organisers hope that people will seize the opportunity to play an even bigger role in the success of this year’s event by becoming Ambassadors. Ambassadors will be vital not only during the event, but in the lead up to it, by helping spread the word about The Gathering in their parishes and communities.
The Gathering team has worked hard to make this year’s event as interesting and as accessible as possible, with even an integrated travel plan available to help people get to Canterbury from the furthest reaches of the Diocese. As Canon Caroline Pinchbeck is keen to point out, The Gathering is for everyone:
We hope as many people as possible will visit the website and be excited by what they see. As the name suggests, The Gathering is about bringing everyone together, for fantastic talks, fellowship, and fun of course.