The Gathering men’s weekend June 2017 

Peter Timothy reports

THE GATHERING 2017AOn 23rd June a group of 13 men from Park headed off to a field near Swindon to join with 2,000 other blokes for a weekend of worship, friendship and fun

We were taking part in a festival called ‘The Gathering’; a weekend where men and their mates can come and enjoy a range of activities from sport to classic cars to camp fires and BBQs. At the heart of the weekend were several meetings in one of two ‘big tops’, featuring worship, testimonies, evangelism and a good measure of banter

We were led in singing by Graham Kendrick and the meetings were mainly hosted by Carl Beech, a former Baptist minister and founder of the organisation Christian Vision for Men (CVM)

With an incredibly diverse group and a general sense of uncertainty in what to expect, we headed off in the minibus, with Martin and Peter Lyle following in a car filled with tents, food and sleeping bags. Alas, in scenes comparable to an Only Fools and Horses Jolly Boys Outing, within an hour Peter’s car started bellowing smoke and ground to a halt. A long wait later, they were towed back to Great Yarmouth, along with all our camping gear!
News spread via social media and many in the church soon began praying. The rest of the gang made do with what we had and created a makeshift camp site until the cavalry arrived in the early evening

Fortunately things picked up from there, and whilst the weekend proved to be a mixed bag in terms of content, there were plenty of positives

The sight and sound of 2,000 men singing before God was powerful and uplifting, and our football team raced through to the cup quarter finals. Watching Nick roll back the years and slalom through the defence before scoring was a definite highlight, while Dale redefined what it means to ‘walk’ during the walking football tournament!
The early morning bible studies with Roy Crowne were inspiring and the sharing of communion outside to close the weekend was made even more special by an RAF Hurricane fly­past timed to perfection

Some of the group took advantage of the prayer tent at various times over the weekend and others took advantage of the bar and the chance to play comedian Tim Vine at darts!

There were many lessons learned from our first trip away as a group but the concept seemed popular, leaving the door open for similar adventures in the future