At last the weekend arrived bringing some 1000 plus people from all over the District together at the Spa Complex Scarborough. This was a weekend of inspiration, to challenge us to Flourish as Christians and churches. The weekend comprised of talks, Bible study, discussions , music, worship and fun. On Friday night Leslie Newton (Chair of our District) welcomed everyone and guided us into what the weekend would hold. He talked about the journey of Christian life and illustrated this with an apple on a tree, linked by the river of life and on to the glorious light of eternal life, symbolized by beautiful twinkly trees. Saturday started with a reflective early morning communion, before we launched into a Bible study, led by Ashley Cooper, Principal of Cliff College, on Acts 16 Paul and Silas in prison. At the end of his study he challenged us as to where we would be on Monday morning, saying it was important for us to be out in the world not in our cosy churches. After coffee Rev Elaine Lindridge urged us to really understand what our church mission was. Where would we be in 3 years? Did we need a plan for growth or an end of life plan for our individual churches. In the afternoon there were a variety of workshops, most oversubscribed. In the evening celebration Lou Fellingham, a Christian singer, led some uplifting worship songs. We particularly felt her song Everlasting Arms (Lean on me) to be a help in knowing that God's love is very real for each one of us. Then the Rev. Professor David Wilkinson, who has a Phd in Science and is the Professor of Theology and religion at Durham University, gave an amusing and thought provoking talk on science and Christianity and its place helping the church to Flourish in the world today. On Saturday night after the evening celebration there were various types of music on offer, including the silent disco! Sunday morning gave the opportunity for people to attend varying styles of worship. In the closing celebration Leslie Newton asked us who was going to be in the driving seat of our lives and church. He challenged us to go from this place and bear fruit saying to go forth and Flourish, we sometimes have to let some things die while others grow. It is easy to remain as we are. Jesus is always on the go encouraging us to go forward. Leslie showed a a picture of a trellis in his garden, it is very wobbly and more of his energy is spent on it rather than on the vine it supports. Sangster wrote in the 1930s 'maintenance saps the life of church'. Our culture needs to know the love of Jesus, we need to be missional churches. Leslie concluded that, following this weekend, he hoped that we would find a new confidence and would Flourish as we travel with God.
Val and Margaret Smith