The Big Church Day Out (BCDO) has been on our radar as a place to exhibit at for a little while, given that it is such a well-attended event by people from so many church backgrounds. So, after organising some awesome students in the form of Curtis and Josh (SCM members from Newman Uni) to come and volunteer with us we were ready to head to Wiston House (South) and Capesthorne Hall (North) to tell people of the marvellous works of SCM.
Both weekends at BCDO were a lot of fun and against all the forecasts the weather was stunning, and so were the grounds where we were based. In my personal experience, the sun always makes a camping experience so much better… It is perhaps the reason why (even though the bazaar tent felt like a melting pot) we had so many great conversations. As is often the case at festivals that we attend for the first time, most conversations start with 'I've never heard of you before'. But I think I'm okay with that; it means people enter in with no preconceptions or ideas on what they think we are about. We just end up with the pleasure of revealing the breadth of the Movement and all the ways SCM can benefit them, their churches or often their soon-to-be-students daughters and sons.
Mailing list sign ups came thick and fast after almost every significant conversation and I honestly felt that people saw something different and exciting about us. I had many conversations over the weekends with people who felt like there was much more to discover about their faith. They were looking for a place where they felt able to explore some of these questions more deeply or look for places to put their faith in to action in some way. Overall, I would say I felt a longing from people I spoke to for more than a society to attach their name to; they wanted to be a part of something that they would grow and flourish in. This is exactly what SCM seeks to provide, and this is probably why we ended up having some great discussions and getting to know so many people, both on and off stand. While exhibiting we are never about advertising a business or a sale, it is always about authentically seeking the best for students and providing an opportunity to join a growing movement which is exciting and hopefully life changing.
My hope is that over the next few months and years we will see more students realise that SCM is something they want to be a part of, rather than just joining whatever Christian society they find at uni. The truth is that SCM is not just a society to join for 3 years - it’s a community, that will encourage you to think deeper and wider. Not to become a better intellectual but a better disciple who seeks justice and celebrates the diversity of the world and all its wonderful traditions.
Just a quick final shout out to Josh and Curtis, who did a great job on the stand, taking initiative at all times and always seeking to go above and beyond. You made the weekends much easier and you represented the Movement so well. Thanks for being so willing to serve, learn and step out of your comfort zones.