Vocal Training 2014 - the highs and lows

Helen's highlights and lowlights from Vocal Training 2014 - if you weren't there this is what you missed!! This is why we love SPEAK...


  • Creativity in SPEAK and Bristol, with paper crafts and ink stamps springing up all over the church and amazing murals, graffiti and other public art on show all over the city.
  • Discussing ‘What is hope?’,  whether it is a more important motivator for change than love, and the difference an active, gritty hope anchored in Christ’s promises of restoration makes over the vague, passive ‘I wish’ kind of hope or a naive hope in ourselves/politicians being able to change things.
  • Discussing and living out being openly imperfect together – how being real with one another and living with all our flaws on show (yet also openly wrestling with them, and not just accepting them) builds real relationships, and inspires others to also be themselves.
  • Campfire, cider, veggie marshmallows... :)
  • Music from Long For The Coast, and campfire singalong Taize and spirituals
  • Sharing a poem I’d written – a big step of imperfect openness for me :) Hope it inspires others to share their own souls.
  • Tea ceremony – how rest, communi-tea and God’s grace can be found in a cup of tea
  • Discussing Christian animism (from a Biblical framework) and living gently with other creatures with Noel Moules, being challenged to stretch the boundaries of love and relationship.
  • Feeding 30 people, despite being locked out the kitchen on the first night
  • Campaigns training – getting excited again over Seeding Change, disinvestment and the ‘For the love of...’ climate change campaign, all the plans we sparked to take home with us, practical tips from Christian Aid Collective, and being encouraged as we all practised explaining SPEAK’s campaign goals to one another.
  • Homemade bread and late night conversations over cocoa whilst it baked :)
  • Extreme ironing! Ever seen anyone ironing during a SPEAK gathering? Especially during the morning’s action briefing?! You have now :D
  • Ecumenicalism! Great conversations ensuing from the simple question ‘what church do you go to?’, when the answer is ‘lots of different ones’! Border crossing is a good thing :)
  • Seeing a mouse


  • Trying to shop for food for 30 people for a whole weekend in a teenytiny Co-op – and setting off the shop security alarms, and having a van break down whilst you’re at it – embarrassing :/ :)
  • All the snoring!
  • Cutting my finger instead of a courgette – ouch!
  • Seeing a mouse *in the kitchen*! Argh! (don’t worry – no nibbling ensued, and we stashed all mouseable food in the fridge after that!)
  • Having to go home!