Click on the photo above to see just a few things that went on at the Flourish weekend at Scarborough. There are photos, 'Have Your Say in Five Flourishing Sentences', and video clips that were used at various sessions.
Chris and Keith Crawford attended Celtic Worship on Sunday morning.
The Sunday morning Celtic Worship session was led by Rev Roy Searle, one of the leaders of the Northumbria Community based between Morpeth and Alnwick in Northumberland.
Roy led the session with a gentle authority, explaining the "what and why" of the various elements of celtic worship as the session proceeded.
Celtic spirituality and worship is highly trinitarian. It builds on the example of the saints who brought Christianity to Britain, beginning in the 6th century AD, and takes inspiration for the worship of God from what is around us in nature. Roy led us in a contemplation of the natural cycle of the seasons, using these as a metaphor for the "seasons of the soul" that we all experience in our spiritual lives.
"Celtic worship" is more than simply worship using folky music: it's a spirituality that draws on Christian tradition dating back 1500 years, that sees the created order as filled with lessons from God, and that is centred on the Christ who created it and who was incarnated into it.
Most powerful Holy Spirit
come down upon us and subdue us.
where the ordinary is made glorious
and glory seems but ordinary,
bathe us with the brilliance
of Your light like dew.
Alan Moir attended the Saturday evening sessions.
'Saturday night was an amazing time, the culmination of a very powerful and challenging day where we experienced a real move of God. First of all the worship, led by Lou Fellingham and band, one of the country's leading Christian artists with a real talent for leading worship, and we were lifted by the experience of such a large group sharing in praise and worship. Then our speaker David Wilkinson, teaching on Paul's mission in Athens and drawing out the lessons for us all in Paul's experience with the people of the city and their environment: real spiritual depth with a dash of humour and links to contemporary culture that you might not have expected from a Rev. Professor (think Love Island, East Enders). At the end of the session it was good to see so many accepting the invitation to stand at the front and reach out God in response to his prompting.
finally at the end of the evening an opportunity to relax, with a choice of listening Lou Fellingham, an informal music session featuring local talent (which included a presbyter well-known to us all), or a silent disco, a concept new to most of us.
All part of a wonderful weekend, which reflects great credit in the vision of Leslie Newton, our District chair, a fantastic group of speakers and presenters, and a very hard-working team facilitating the event.'
Pat Stephenson attended the Drumming Workshop on Saturday afternoon.
'A new experience. The leaders began by explaining that rhythm is an integral part of life, not just in nature and the seasons, but also in our bodies, such as breathing and the flow of our blood. The aim of the workshop was to show us how we could use rhythm to pray, especially when we want to pray for something and don't know how or can't find the words. To me, it felt a bit like harmonizing in music, except without notes, only rhythm. We went from beating out the rhythm of what we had for breakfast to praying for Brexit!'
Ann Bradshaw attended the workshop 'Why your church needs a growth or end of life plan'.
This workshop was heavily oversubscribed, with people standing to listen to the very talented Elaine Lindridge, an Evangelical Enabler from Newcastle, who had already spoken to the whole gathering during the morning session. All churches since the 2017 Conference should be planning for growth or closure, and reviewing annually. The statistics tell of an ageing profile and decline in Sunday attendance, so we should grow in other ways — increase our midweek activities, broaden our fellowship opportunities.
We were told of one church with only a handful of members, finding the caretaking and financing of their church almost beyond them, but refusing to close. Instead they turned their attention to a clothes bar (a bit like a foodbank for clothes) that was looking for premises to run their activity, and set about helping them, and then the minister came to talk to those attending, and then some of the attendees asked if they could set up a Messy Church, and then they widened it out to having a foodbank as well — soon the church was thriving and growing in an alternative but still fruitful way. All this from a church in need of finding an end of life plan.
In Hull, churches have divided into becoming centres of mission, or centres of fellowship. We were challenged to think of centralising at circuit level for some of the onerous tasks of property and finance, leaving our people to find what they find fruitful in their churches.
In this circuit, we are all currently looking at Mission Planning, and the 10 questions Elaine presented to us could help with this. We will add those questions to this article soon.
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about mission and growth plans, please click here.'
Irene McGowen was in the Grand Hall on Saturday morning.
Flourish weekend was wonderful, not least Saturday morning when we were treated to a brilliant Bible study by Revd Ashley Cooper, Principal of Cliff College, on Acts 16:16-40 which made a powerful impact on me.
Paul and Silas find themselves in prison for preaching the good news of Jesus and Rev Ashley stressed something he said we often overlook: their sorry state — dragged to the market place, attacked by the crowd, flogged with rods and then thrown, wounded and bleeding into the deepest, darkest dungeon, their feet in stocks.
And yet, at midnight we find them witnessing to their faith, praying and singing hymns AND the other prisoners are listening.
Then suddenly, an earthquake rocks the prison — "maybe it was just a coincidence" said Revd Ashley! — doors fly open, chains came loose and realising what's happened, the frightened jailer draws his sword to end his own life before someone else does it for him; but Paul stops him just in time, because they're all there, none of the prisoners has escaped: "they were waiting to hear the end of the story", said Revd Ashley — and what an ending!
The jailer and all his household were saved: he washed Paul and Silas's wounds and then, he himself was washed in the water of baptism — perfect mission accomplished, I thought, but what kind of witness does my life make?
Then, in sharp contrast, but equally engaging, with her lovely Geordie accent and friendly, girl- next- door manner, Revd Elaine Lindridge, Mission Enabler for the Newcastle District took up the mission theme, reassuring us that we too can have confidence in joining in God's work of mission. Starting with a cartoon of a minister standing in a church doorway inviting someone to "come in," to which he replies "You come out!" she showed that our mission is not so much to get people in as to engage with them, where they are, as Jesus did.
Like Paul and Silas we are being observed; people round us know we are Christians — but are we truly different, do our lives tell the good news of Jesus' love to others? Recent surveys show that 1 in 5 people want to know more about Jesus and some of these will be people we already know: our families, our friends, our neighbours, the people we work with or meet on the bus, who need to hear that Jesus loves them in our troubled world and we must pray for opportunities and confidence to speak to them.
In this year when we are all being encouraged to tell out stories, let's use them, Elaine concluded, to help others by showing them what Jesus has done for us.
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