...gathering in the country to arrange the judging of hundreds of essays sent in by pupils at schools across Britain in the 2009 Schools Bible Project.
This Project involves pupils studying the New Testament and then choosing specific events and writing about them. They have to imagine themselves actually present at one of the major events of Christ's life - either writing as one of the people mentioned in the Scriptures or inventing a bystanding character. The resulting essays then pour in - many of a very high standard, showing insights and sensitivity, and a real grasp of the significance of the events described. Some, of course, are not so good and are unintentionally extremely funny - and we get all the usual mispellings, especially with reference to Pontius and his aeronautical career.
We meet at Ufton Court, a most wonderful old house, hugely recommended for school visits - it is superbly run and brings history alive. In the magnificent old barn where we were working, tables were set for a Tudor Banquet which children - already busy learning about the relevant costumes and customs - were to enjoy that evening, complete with formal dance and the entrance of a Boar's Head etc.
I can't reveal the winners of the 2009 Schools Bible Project yet - names and schools will be posted on that website link in due course - but I can say that the teams of judges had a most difficult task, because there were a number of really excellent essays meriting prizes. In response to this, a new range of prizes was launched last year, to be given in addition to those for the four main winners. With a couple of kind volunteers, I shall be spending several days packing and mailing these, along with the special certificates that are being printed...
The group sponsoring this Project brings together people from different Christian denominations and I am always touched by the amount of time, enthusiasm and interest willingly given.