The fun of festival chaplaincy

Baptist Minister in Training Esther Day shares the joy of being a Chaplain "beside the seaside, beside the sea."

Hi, I’m Esther, and I have been facilitating Chaplaincy Lowestoft for 7 years. That’s me at the bottom of this selfie with the pink face glitter. Alongside me are some of the rest of our team.

Esther Day and the Lowestoft Chaplaincy team

I have always enjoyed working ecumenically. I came to know Jesus in an Anglican expression of Church, attended a Vineyard for a while, trained with The Light College which is an ecumenical college and I have worked for 20 years for, and trained for the Ministry with, London Road Baptist Church in Lowestoft.

Chaplaincy Lowestoft has been ecumenical from the start. Central to what we do is to curate safe spaces where people can come for wellbeing and spiritual support all grounded in the Christian ethos. To do this we offer hand massages, prayer, blessings, free gifts, prayer paintings and Jesus Deck card readings through pop-up chaplaincies either in cafes or the town centre.

Our Festival Chaplaincy grew out of our regular street-based chaplaincy which has Baptist, Anglican and New Frontier members. Lowestoft is the most easterly town in the country, and therefore the first to see the sunrise at midsummer. Our First Light Festival celebrates the summer solstice on the beach and we set up there and offer a “Soul Space” connecting with spiritual seekers. This year we were also invited to join the Festival Pastors at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk. There we worked with their front-of-house space engaging with families and young people.

It’s such a joy to see people encounter the spirit of God who wouldn’t otherwise. To watch them have really positive experiences of Christian spirituality, as well as seeing wonderful ordinary Christians step out in faith to use their gifts and personality. I love it!

‘We learn together’

Obviously, we recognise we differ at times in our theology and Church expressions, but primarily we all love Jesus and want people to encounter Him! To help with this, we have comprehensive training for each Chaplain but I encourage each person to use their skills – if you can prophecy use it, if you are creative, pastoral, a great listener, really gregarious, then use those skills. Some people love to hand-massage, others don’t; some love the Jesus Deck, others don’t – that’s fine. At times we chat together around the theology of what we do, and we learn together.

The Bible tells us unity is God’s heart for us, I think we feel God’s heart sing when we come together, and I love drawing on the wisdom, different traditions, expressions and passions from across His Church. I have got to know some wonderful people, and our team is richer because of who they are and what they bring.

My tips would be: Gather around what you know the Spirit is saying, be clear about the things that unite you and leave the rest, love people, be creative communicators, train people, allow people’s natural personalities and spiritual gifts to flourish and have so much fun with God together!