A record turnout for new Christian festival

The Bishop of Lewes, Rt Revd Wallace Benn (right) cools down with a triple-flavour ice cream at the 'Bible By The Beach' Christian festival with event trustee Yolanda Ibbett, event chairman Revd David Bourne (vicar of St Mary's, Hailsham), and Mrs Lindsay Benn.
The Bishop of Lewes, Rt Revd Wallace Benn (right) cools down with a triple-flavour ice cream at the 'Bible By The Beach' Christian festival with event trustee Yolanda Ibbett, event chairman Revd David Bourne (vicar of St Mary's, Hailsham), and Mrs Lindsay Benn.

MORE than 1,000 adults and hundreds of children and young people generated record attendance at a newly-established major Christian festival in Eastbourne.

Churchgoers from a wide range of denominations turned out in force for the third annual Bible By The Beach event initiated by the Bishop of Lewes, Rt Revd Wallace Benn.

They enjoyed a variety of talks, worship, seminars and children and young people’s activities in the four-day get-together, which finished Monday afternoon.

“This is a flagship event for lively Bible teaching in the south-east,” said Bishop Wallace.

Organisers were delighted that in spite of the economic downturn, bookings for this year’s event were higher than 12 months ago.

Among speakers were human rights campaigner Baroness Caroline Cox, founder and chief executive of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) which supports oppressed, persecuted and neglected groups of people in Europe, Africa and Asia.

A speaker drawing large crowds was Oxford University professor John Lennox, as he mounted a staunch defence of Christianity in the face of the attacks by leading atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

Camille B. Kampouris, one of Jim Henson’s Muppeteers, who now helps head up an international Christian online teaching initiative, shared something of her journey to faith at the event and briefly reprised her role as the voice of some of Sesame Street’s best-known characters.

Archbishop Greg Venables, who has ministered in South America for many years, flew in from an international conference of Anglican bishops to give a series of addresses, and said, “These are new days and God is working in wonderful ways around the world.”

Internationally recognised and acclaimed song and hymn-writer Stuart Townend led the musicians and also attending were Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and mayor Carolyn Heaps. The event attracted churchgoers from across many different denominations.

Plans are already underway for next year’s Christian Festival which will run from May 4-7.