Retreating or conferring?
I'm not sure which it is I'm meant to be doing, so I'll just do both...
I’m currently staying at Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick and attending the Heart of England Baptist Association’s (HEBA) annual Ministers’ conference.
Some things have changed since I was last here, such as the breakfast (which used to be a highly unsatisfactory affair) which has improved tremendously, as has all the food. It’s such a shame I’m on a diet! The other thing that has changed is the layout, it’s been modernised in the downstairs of the main hose, and looks all the better for it.
So, what does one do at a Ministers’ Conference? Well, I arrived yesterday evening (after conducting the funeral service of our oldest member, may she rest in peace and rise in glory) just in time to hear Elaine Storkey speaking on 1 Peter. She was good, as always, mixing both the theological study and the very practical application, something she continued this morning in our worship and teaching time. I also listened to Mike Coley share about the work of BCUIM, the industrial mission agency in the Black Country. He spoke well, sharing both his heart and his theology of industrial chaplaincy. Alongside these formal sessions (of which there are several more to come) there is what I guess is just as fruitful an activity, networking and catching up. I’ve been having some inspired conversations about shared mission, networking leaders of larger churches, the way HEBA supports missions, new activities all across the HEBA patch, what God’s been up to in churches, communities and individuals.
Will it change anything, my being here? Well yes, I think it will, and I think new mission opportunities, and a fresh sense of the scale of work to which I / We are called to will shape some of what lies ahead for us in the years to come.