Finding God at a Metal Festival
Revd. Tim Sudworth shares his experience of chaplaincy at Download Festival
As a teenager from the 80’s and having, in my wife’s opinion, particularly bad taste in music, what I was looking forward to the most at Download Festival was watching Metallica and the wonderfully bizarre Mongolian throat metal band The Hu. I was happy to do chaplaincy, it just wasn’t the top of my priorities list for the weekend. But then God turned up!
Download is one of the largest heavy metal festivals in Europe hosting around 130,000 metal fans of varied ages, cultures and walks of life for food, camping, and music cranked up to 11. It’s only the third year the chaplaincy has been run by the Revd Roy Monks (a local Baptist Minister) and the Revd Andrew Race (the local vicar). Over the three years a team has been built up and credibility is such that the manager of Download now supplies free tickets and a tent to minister out of for the weekend.
Over the four days our team recorded over a thousand requests for prayer, listened to hundreds of people share their worries and concerns and on the final morning celebrated communion amongst our team and with many festival goers.
In the season where many of us pilgrimage to our usual summer festivals – New Wine or Walsingham – I was challenged to find God at a festival where you were odd if you didn’t have a tattoo and no hands were raised but heads were banged. In the end Metallica were slightly disappointing but God wasn’t. Here’s to next year’s pilgrimage.