Hospitality. Learning. And Pilgrimage.
or Why Greenbelt is a lot like St Alban’s Cathedral
Yesterday, the Greenbelt staff team enjoyed its annual day out of the office together. It’s a chance for a change of scene and a different perspective. Last year we went to Kew Gardens. Yesterday we went to St Alban’s Cathedral. While we were there, what struck me is that the Cathedral and its long history demonstrate three of the characteristics I hope Greenbelt does, too.
- St Alban’s Cathedral aims to offer hospitality to all. Those of all faiths and none and those of all backgrounds. It provides a place of welcome. It always has done. Its founder, Alban, first welcomed an itinerant Christian preacher way back in the third century (and finished by paying for that welcome with his life). And the Cathedral still plays host to the community at large – and not just those who visit it and are involved in its life for religious reasons. I’d like to think that – at Greenbelt – we’re committed to the same welcome and inclusion.
- It aspires to be a place of learning. From its monastic roots, with a rich and radical tradition of educating anyone from the locality who wanted to learn, the Cathedral is still committed to development and exploration. Greenbelt, too, is a place of learning and transformation. We all hear and experience things through Greenbelt we would not otherwise encounter. Our lives are expanded, challenged, changed. Greenbelt is a learning community.
- And finally, of course, St Alban’s Cathedral is a place of pilgrimage. The tomb of St Alban, this country’s first martyr, is visited by thousands each year. And has been for centuries. Although not quite as old yet, Greenbelt is for many a staging post. Many describe it as marking the end of their year. They measure where they’re at in their lives in terms of festivals. For many, Greenbelt represents a gathering of the clans – the place where friends meet up to catch up with each other on their different journeys.
Greenbelt is many things to many different people. But I’d like us to aspire to sharing St Alban’s Cathedral values. To be, among many things, about hospitality, learning and pilgrimage.
Join The Alban Pilgrimage on Saturday 23 June. Registration and more information here »