It brings me great pleasure to tell you that, on the weekend of July 18-20, Hutchmoot UK is happening! And it brings me even greater pleasure to tell you that Hutchmoot UK is happening in Oxford—a short twenty-minute walk from the original Rabbit Room in the Eagle and Child pub. (It’s true. Google it.)
This thing has been in the works for months—years if you count all the time we’ve spent dreaming of it—and while there’s still a lot to sort out, we finally have the website up and running and registration is good-to-go.
Some of you who were at Hutchmoot 2018 may have met Mark Meynell (author of When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend and A Wilderness of Mirrors, among several others). He’s become a good friend, and he agreed to be our UK ally for this whole thing. He’s spent weeks working out details—like the venue, for starters. There’s no shortage of beautiful buildings in Oxford, but there’s also no shortage of events wanting to use those buildings, especially in the summer. Still, he managed to find the perfect spot: St. Andrews Church in North Oxford. I mean, look at this place. Not only is it beautiful; it’s literally on the same block as Tolkien’s old house.
Mark also helped us sort out equally important details like FOOD. In England last fall I spent some time with a guy named JJ. When I first met JJ I asked him his last name and he smiled and said, “Just JJ, mate.” Then he vanished, more or less. That was the moment I knew we would be friends. It was also the moment I wondered if he was an MI6 agent doubling as a Christian music fan. Anyway, Mark found out that JJ is quite the cook, and convinced him to be our King of Food for the weekend. (Just don’t ask him his last name, or you might wake up one day on a deserted island.)
We have a marvelous plenary speaker lined up for Saturday (we’ll announce it in a few weeks), some excellent artists planned for the in-the-round show on Thursday, and I’m thrilled to be doing the Friday night concert. And that’s all in addition to the sessions and the coffee and the conversations and the strolls around the “city of dreaming spires.” Can you tell I’m excited?
Since this is our first non-Nashville Hutchmoot, though, we’re moving into this carefully, making sure we’re respectful of the cultural differences on the other side of the Atlantic. What works in America might not work in England, after all. [Insert Revolutionary War joke here.] We don’t want to make this an American invasion, you know? The reason for a Hutchmoot UK is to set the table for these conversations and relationships to blossom there, and to see what the Lord might do. We want US folks to come, of course, but we also want to make sure this is edifying for people in and around the UK. That’s why we’ve decided to limit the number of US slots sold to 20 of the 100. If the UK tickets are slow-going, we might release more in a few months, but based on my conversations with folks over there during the last few years, there seems to be a real hunger for Hutchmoot-ish things and it won’t be a problem. My hope is that this will be the first of many, so if you’re not one of the first 20, don’t worry.
When people ask me what Hutchmoot is, I usually say that it’s a feast. A three-day feast where we celebrate the way God uses story, art, and music to draw attention to himself. Food is a big part of it. So is hospitality and community. The sessions are about all manner of topics, but in the end they’re less important than the fact that we’ve gathered together in the name of Jesus to celebrate him. Whether or not that’s exactly what was on the minds of those gathered in the original Rabbit Room back in the day, that’s what we’ll be doing—and they gave us the idea.
I can’t wait to see what happens.