This weekend saw 110,000 rock and metal music fans descend on Castle Donington for the 20th Download Festival, and for the third year running an ecumenical Chaplaincy team was onsite.
The team was led by Revd Andrew Race, vicar of Castle Donington with Lockington cum Hemington, and was made up of lay and ordained members from the Diocese of Leicester and further afield, all who felt called to serve the festival goers.
Revd Andrew says they were made welcome and enjoyed many conversations and glimpses of God at work during this four-night pop-up city on a race circuit in Leicestershire.
Chaplaincy care was carried out with prayers, water and sun cream and, for the first time, a communion service in the main Arena.
The service was at the request of festival goers and the team responded with an inclusive service, presided by Pioneer Curate Revd Emily Sharman, which encouraged those exploring faith and the faithful alike.
Revd Andrew says people come to Download for one thing: their love of music. That music is often about protest and pain, about giving a voice to issues that people are passionate about. He explains: “The Chaplaincy Team offers a presence for people to come and talk about the things that matters to them: relationships, bereavement, faith, purpose, direction, doing something meaningful... and so many ask for prayer and for God’s healing and blessing on their lives.”
The ‘Jesus Tent’ (as it was known) was a safe place for people to meet their friends, right in the middle of the main Arena.
Revd Andrew adds: “The service was a real highlight of our time on the festival site and hopefully will now be a regular part of the offering to this community.
“It was so humbling and such a privilege to be on the chaplaincy team at Download. I was bowled over by how many people asked for prayer and God’s blessing - some even asked me to conduct their weddings there and then.
“God really is at work in people's lives. I’ve never met a nicer bunch of 110,000 people!”