The second Welsh Mission Camp Meeting took place over the weekend of 5-7 October 2018. The meetings were held in the beautiful grounds of Wychwood Park in Crewe, the railway town in the North England Conference (NEC) territory of Cheshire. The theme for the meetings was 'Empowered to Serve' which supports the Welsh Mission vision, which is 'Seeking and Serving to make God known'.
Dr Sung Kwon, renowned author of the book, Burst the Bubble, was the main speaker. He has served in Adventist Community Services (ACS), as Executive Director for the North American Division since 2001 and is an ordained minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He was accompanied by his wife on this trip too.
Right from the opening session Dr Kwon provided an important reminder in his message, 'Biblical Justice' in the Community, that we need to serve like Jesus did (Matthew 20:28). He pointed out that justice is based on charity, and that we need to be the voice for the voiceless, being open-handed – providing people freely with what they need.
His message showed that we had become complacent in the way we operate as a church and encouraged us to make our relationship with Jesus our prime objective. His parting salvo for Friday night was that we should not be just content with being Sabbath keepers, but seek to be 'World Changers' like Jesus.
At the end of the message we all felt driven to make these lectures a reality in our lives. A key question was shared with us to get us thinking more strategically ‒ 'How can the church experience unity and harmony, even if it is made up of people of many nations and languages?' The opportunity was given to the audience to answer this question verbally. It seems we were in agreement that more time needs to be spent understanding the similarities and celebrating our diversities would lead to more unity amongst us.
The closing challenge for each attendee on Friday night was to focus on being a church that is 'Missional' minded rather than just 'Attractional'. It's so easy to ask the question – 'How can we be the best church in our community?' Instead we should be asking ourselves – 'How can we be the best church for our community?'
Pastor Richard Jackson, President of the North England Conference, was acknowledged by Pastor Emanuel Bran at the close of the service and he welcomed delegates to the NEC and offered words of encouragement, as well as thanking Pastor Kwon for his powerful opening message.
Music played an important part in the worship services. The young praise team was led by Camelia Bran, and were accompanied by talented musicians providing inspirational music and leading in the theme song at the beginning of each session 'Light up the Fire'. Additional music was provided by the Newport Seventh-day Adventist Choir with two beautiful and moving songs.
The Welsh Mission Day of Fellowship and camp meetings have always been enhanced by piano recitals from brother Lesley Risckowitz. He performed a piece which proved to be a soul-stirring experience for each attentive listener. The musical medley he delivered for the children at the end of their graduation ceremony, was made up of two hymns. He told the children that all hymns tell a story and that the first hymn was quite sad, about a green hill – representing the place where Jesus died in pain, out of love for us, then the other was contrastingly joyous and exhilarating because Jesus had gone to heaven, reminding us to sing as we journey on.
During the course of the weekend, early morning prayer sessions were conducted by Pastor Adriana Fodor providing the platform for the Holy Spirit to lead the daily sessions. Her dynamic and energetic leadership style and messages inspired the delegates. The prayer sessions resulted in a stronger united bond between us.
The Sabbath School was facilitated by Pastor Jovan Adamović, who pointed out that our unique gifts, talents and our diversity, help to unify us. He was supported by two other presenters who engaged the group using differing styles speaking about the mechanics of unity; Bruce Khumalo and Jonathan Nyengani.
Following their presentations, three questions were asked for reflection:
1. What are practical steps we can take to help to heal the divisions of race, culture and language that hurt us even in the church?
2. What choices can you make right now to help restore harmony among those whom your choices can impact in a powerful way?
3. How can the church experience unity and harmony even if it is made up of people of many nations and languages?
Cathy Boldeau and Danny Reid, from ADRA-UK, made an appeal for the Indonesian crisis following the tsunami triggered by an earthquake that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale. They followed the appeal by showing the work that ADRA is performing on the ground to alleviate some of the suffering people are experiencing following the tsunami. They also spoke about the virtual gift box that has been developed as an online tool to replace the physical gift boxes that members used to donate to children abroad. The initiative had been introduced to save shipping costs and to help local people decide what items were best suited to children in their countries, based on need.
Despite the wet and cold morning, a number of individuals attended the Sabbath session as day delegates. While golfers battled the wind and rain on the golf course outside the worship hall, warm fellowship was being experienced in the meetings. Recognition was given to retired ministers who were in attendance on the Sabbath; Pastor and Sister David Foster, along with Pastor and Sister Roger Neale. All Welsh Missions pastors were in attendance, with the exception of Pastor David Rancić, who was on sabbatical with his family.
Other NEC and British Union Conference (BUC) officers were also acknowledged; Pastor Michael Simpson, NEC Personal Ministries director and his wife, Danny Reid from ADRA-UK, with other BUC support staff (Jacquei Johnson and Lucinda Calvert), along with Cathy Boldeau, also from ADRA-UK. Pastor Leslie Ackie, BUC Family Ministries director, and Steve Okelo, Secretary & Treasurer for SDAA and SDAT, with his family were also recognised for being present.
In the Sabbath morning message 'The Ambiguity of the Church' was based on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, emphasis was placed on not doubting God's ability to use us to do His work in spreading the gospel. We were advised not to just have a knowledge about Jesus but be willing to share by firstly having an experience with Him. Steps were provided on how to experience a REAL relationship with Jesus.
1. Accept Jesus Christ
2. Learn of Jesus everyday
3. Proclaim the Good News
4. Receive the Holy Spirit to continue
Dr Kwon added, that people will see and touch the message of God's love through the way we live our lives. Power of persuasion comes when we demonstrate our commission and we will experience church growth.
The sun came out on the Sabbath afternoon, and a graduation ceremony took place for some of the 84 children in the Welsh Mission who completed the Adventist Discovery Centre's 'Welsh Mission ‒ Let's Explore Children's Bible Study Programme'. Maureen Rock, the Adventist Discovery Centre (ADC) Principal, offered words of encouragement to the children, parents, and area Bible study coordinators. The Bible Study Programme was followed by 108 children aged 5-14 from eleven churches in the Welsh Mission, under the leadership of sponsor Eileen McKenzie, supported by her husband, Kenroy McKenzie, and local coordinators.
The local coordinators were recognised for their hard work. Words of encouragement about evangelism to our children were offed by Pastor Leslie Ackie. The children in the Mission, through fundraising activities, raised money over the course of the year and presented a cheque to ADRA-UK on behalf of the WM Children's Ministries department.
'Transitioning from Attractional Church to the Missional Church Movement', spoke about our need to shelve our preconceptions. We were reminded that we need to be salt and light in our sphere of influence. God calls us to turn the world upside down, by meeting people's needs. This can only be done if we connect with people through understanding and knowledge, not on a superficial level, but through sharing, caring and spreading the Good News of God's redemption. Dr Kwon said we need to move out of our Adventist bubble to make those important connections, discerning God's purpose for us. He went on to say that if we are not willing to develop relationships will all people, we are not following the footsteps of Christ. Examples were shared of churches that experienced growth after issues were addressed and needs were met in the communities.
Sunday's closing message was entitled 'Measuring the effectiveness of Ministry through long-term sustainable community development and strategic engagement'. In this message Pastor Kwon showed that our church activities should be part of highly focussed programmes that should lead to precise outcomes over a specific period. He went on to give guidance on how to measure the effectiveness of our ministry using evaluation, which he classed as a critical part of organisational growth. He discussed logic models and the five major components that are included in them, showing the connection between planned activities and intended results. He continually stated that the church needs to identify the core values of its ministry by asking, why do we exist? and what is our passion? He discussed leadership and discipleship development. Pointing to Acts chapter 2 he said that the believers shared the Good News and showed the love of God ‒ through worship, discipleship, fellowship and community services. He encouraged us to teach kingdom values and principles and to be a change agent for God, emphasising that we need to have a vision and provide relevant cohesive programmes that will benefit our neighbourhoods and communities, serving others and demonstrating God's love through action.
It was a remarkable weekend, filled with challenging and motivating messages. Many left the event with a new attitude and determination to be 'His instrument to serve others'. We look forward to sharing our experiences at the next camp meeting of how these messages moved us to take our church ministries to the next level and become innovative in how we connect and serve in this mission. Let's pray for the Holy Spirit to equip us to look for opportunities to demonstrate the love of God.