The first of 80,000 rock fans booked for the Reading Rock Festival this year began pitching their tents on the festival site by the banks of the Thames in rather dismal conditions as a light drizzle fell from leaden skies, but those I encountered in Waitrose or waiting for the bus were in high spirits , expecting to be well rewarded by the bands whom they had paid £200 to hear this year. One 16-year old waiting for the bus told me that she had pitched her tent and was now going home (in Emmer Green) for the night because her GCSE results are due in the morning. She said her tent would be all right because she had left a friend on guard.
A special, temporary pedestrian bridge has been put in place across the Thames to give access to the festival site from the Caversham and Mapledurham side of the river, and local businesses, restaurants and pubs that have been preparing for this event, are now fully stocked and are displaying welcoming notices, especially along Caversham Road, the route from the station. Many elderly residents avoid the whole area for the duration of the Rock Festival, and many take their car into Henley to do their grocery shopping, but I enjoy seeing this great gathering of young people.
We, in Churches Together in Caversham, have also been preparing as our congregations donated gifts of biscuits, bottled water, etc., and have been offering to help hand out copies of the
United Christian Broadcasters booklet ‘The Word for Today’ (their normal daily Bible reading notes), to serve tea, coffee and gifts and offer ‘spiritual refreshments to all rock fans who come to the New Testament Church of God which is situated opposite Waitrose in the centre of Caversham. A new upright banner with the Churches Together logo and photos of the 12 churches in Caversham on it will stand outside and a huge banner across the top of the building says ‘YOU HAVE ARRIVED - Now take a break for nourishment and spiritual refreshment'. A similar ‘YOU HAVE ARRIVED’ banner is being placed at the site with instructions how to reach the church. The Caversham Baptist Church is also opening up their premises in the same way as part of the same Gospel Outreach.
Tonight we held a prayer meeting and discussed final details, which included printing tomorrow leaflets to go in the booklets informing that, if they would like to know the name and address of a church in their home area, they should come to the church and volunteers will consult the Internet for them. So we are also now prepared for teams of volunteers to hand out the booklets, serve teas and coffees and offer prayer and spiritual help on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps you will add your prayers to ours and be on the lookout for any young people returning from the Festival who decide to try your local church.