By Andrew Weston, Guest Contributor
A gathering of 1500 people of all ages, all associated with Pilots from all over the country, with all sorts of backgrounds might not be something you can imagine happening. Hearing that they were mostly from the URC, but also the Church of England, the Congregational Federation and the Baptist Union plus one of our multi faith Pilots companies might seem even harder to imagine. However, this weekend, that’s exactly what happened – and great fun it was too!
Let me paint the picture. Last Saturday saw Pilots on Safari take place at West Midlands Safari Park. As if the 4 mile long safari drive with over 600 animals wasn’t enough excitement, there was all sorts to see and do with the Adventure Theme Park and the Discovery Trail. As well as all that was on offer from the Safari Park, we opened and closed the day in worship together and had an Animal Catcher Adventure challenge where the Pilots could collect stickers from different points all around the site in order to complete the game.
The sun shone down for most of the day, and there was so much to see and do. Yet that wasn’t what made the day feel so special. Having grown up within it, I often think that the URC feels a bit like a big family, and bumping into so many people who I knew was really special. It was great to catch up with friends old and new, hearing how they’re doing and being encouraged by all that’s going on in their churches. That was a real highlight. The really special thing, though, was meeting so many people who I hadn’t met before, and seeing everybody having such a great time together.
There’s something so powerful about community that comes from being together, isn’t there? I don’t think that in itself is a surprise, but you might be surprised that a feeling of community would come out in such a big gathering of 1500 Pilots (or people being Pilots for the day). As we shared our stories, discovered new things together, and praised God for the goodness of His creation as one family in Christ, I was struck that it felt a little bit like a glimpse of heaven.
All of us had travelled from different places, some in big groups but many in small groups, so it was so encouraging to be reminded that God’s church – the people who gather in Jesus’ name – is alive and active and doing all sorts of things all over our nation.
Pilots on Safari: a glimpse of heaven. Be sure to join us at the next Pilots Big Day Out – I’ll see you there!
Pilots is a Christian organisation open to all children and young people – you can find out more by heading to pilots.org.uk. Andrew Weston is the current Fellowship of the United Reformed Youth Moderator and writes regularly over at the FURY Moderators’ Blog: fury.org.uk and on Twitter @Andrew_Weston.