By CHRISTINA WHITE
As THE woRLD's youth celebrated in sunshine to greet the Pope in Paris, Britain's youth had a slightly more soggy time of it, braving heavy rain at the Green Belt Christian Festival at Deene Park, Northampton last weekend.
Organisers, hoping for a turnout of 20,000, welcomed more than 13,000 young people who donned an assortment of waterproofs for the four day evangelical bonanza which started on Friday and concluded on Bank Holiday Monday.
The event, sponsored this year by charity Chris
tian Aid, concluded on Monday with an "overground" day, aimed to raise awareness of the "uprooted and homeless". As the festival-goers ran for the cover of their tents and bivouacs they may well have reflected ruefully on the plight of the homeless, out in all weathers.
Speakers given star billing for the event included Swampy, the enfant terrible of the bypass protest movement who was forced to decline his invitation on legal grounds and the controversial Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, who announced, in the prefestival publicity blurb, that he would be challenging
conventional attitudes to sex, power and "dancing on the edge of faith".
Concerns over the weather dampening spirits or turn-out were unfounded. Anne Vink of Christian Aid said that as far as the charity was concerned, it had been a great success: "It went really well. This year we focused primarily on trade raising awareness of poverty and workers' conditions." 'Green Belters' were encouraged to leave video messages for their local supermarket managers, to protest at trade inequality. "It's probably the most successful Green Belt we've ever had," she said.