Devon County Show Chaplains Offer “A Touch of God’s Love”
Volunteer chaplains were out and about at the Devon County Show this year for the first time.
The chaplains, from churches across Devon, were tasked with walking around the showground at Westpoint, near Exeter, chatting to people they met and offering to pray with them.
The initiative was part of the Churches Together presence at the show which saw Christians from different denominations running children’s activities, performing live music, talking to people and praying with them and showcasing what churches have been doing in their communities during the pandemic.
The new Devon Pilgrim project was also launched at the show.
Rev’d James Grier, the Diocese of Exeter Mission Enabler, who was one of the organisers, said “None of us knew what this year’s show would be like and how well it would go.
“For us, as the Devon Churches team it was one of the best yet!
“We introduced Show Chaplains who were based, not in the church area, but all over the site, offering a listening ear, encouragement and where appropriate prayer.
“Every time they returned to base they were full of stories of God at work across the show prompting timely conversations offering people hope and a touch of God’s love.
“It was also great to have examples of the church serving the community, with Exeter Food Bank, the Salvation Army and YMCA.”
Members of the Young Christian Climate Network relay from Cornwall to Glasgow also spent a day at the show and were interviewed live about their climate change campaign by the Rt Rev’d Mark Rylands, a Devon minister and Chair of the Melanesian Mission UK.
The campaigners also carried their campaign ‘boat’, named Pilgrim, through the showground, to make the point that we all share the same planet, but when it comes to the adverse affects of climate change, we are not all in the same boat.
The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell, was invited to bless the Best in Show livestock at the winner’s parade.
He also handed out some of the prizes and said, “Last year the show couldn’t happen because of lockdown.
“This year people are going around and reconnecting with each other. It’s so wonderful to see a smile on people’s faces.
“For me, I want to connect with the farming community because it has been so traumatic for them. I want to hear their stories but also their hopes.
“It is a real privilege for me to be here.”
The children’s tent in the Churches Together area was run by the Diocese of Exeter’s children’s mission advisors, Helen Williams and Clare Cooke, helped by a team of volunteers.
Helen said, “children and families are so much of our church communities, so having a welcoming space at the show feels a very natural and necessary thing so that we can make connections and offer something of the warmth and the love of Christ.”
As a way of showing ‘church beyond the building’ the children’s team placed six wooden cut-out sheep with Bible verses around the showground. They collected them all back at the end of the show, apart from one – MatthEwe.
If you find their lost sheep, please email Helen or Clare!