This conference was held in the now familiar surroundings to so many EF members in Holland House Cropthorne, Worcestershire.
It is under new management but the welcome could not have been more warm and sincere. Improvements have been made to the décor and some furnishings, and also some changes to procedures, all of which have further enhanced the attractiveness of this venue.
Twenty people attended and three people were attending for the first time and one ‘founding’ member returning after an absence of a number of years. He had spent some time overseas but was glad to renew fellowship with this group.
The speaker was Rev. Paul Whiting from Metropolitan Church, London, Ontario, Canada. Paul was himself a ‘founding’ member of the Fellowship in 1979.
Paul referred to those days a number of times during the three sessions of the main theme of the weekend ‘Rediscovering Evangelical’. Throughout the weekend Paul spoke so much about his own spiritual journey in a way which moved us over the full spectrum of emotion from tears to thanksgiving and from compassion to convulsions of laughter.
The whole of his presentation to us was challenging and uplifting. Each Saturday session involved working in groups of 3 or 4 which proved to be very helpful. The time of worship on Sunday morning was inspiring and affirming.
Saturday evening, before our time of relaxing and watching a couple of relevant DVD’s in which mostly gay Christians spoke about their experience of reconciling their faith and sexuality, we discussed the possibility of ‘doing evangelical’ by distributing leaflets outside ‘hard line’ churches. This resulted in at least half a dozen people being willing to try this activity as a way of reaching those who we feel need to know of our existence. This further developed into discussion of other ways in which we could make ourselves known to those who need us. Members are invited to submit their ideas of activities and offer suggestions for leaflets or other material to further this exercise.
COMMENTS FROM DELEGATES
An opportunity was given for any delegate to write a comment about the conference. As part of the conference activity we were invited to select 10 important things that have happened in our lives and summarise them in one sentence and at the end to summarise the whole thing in a sentence or two. Some of these comments are listed here.
Excellent conversations facilitated by Paul Whiting.
Inspiring ‘one sentence testimonies’.
Action planning for the future.
Believe ‘OUT’ loud.
I felt very good and accepted at this conference. Everyone was loving and friendly. This is what church should be like – please accept us as we are.
Even when those around you despise you and you are in your deepest despair, God never leaves you.
Challenging myself, challenging God does not prevent me from graduating into the fullness of Christ’s love.
Surviving against the odds to be able to search and explore the diversity that is nature and natural.
My sexuality has made my faith more real and honest.