Lucy and I have just come back from two weeks away.
The second week was on what is called a Christian house party run by an organisation called the Stewards Trust http://www.stewardstrust.org.uk/with a group of families which we first got to know 14 years ago. The week includes worship, teaching for parents (led this year by Bishop Paul Williams) and for the youth, group discussions and prayer and various activities in the afternoons – tennis competitions etc. Our daughters have grown up with the children of these families and we all know each other so well. There has been a steady progression of the youth from these house-parties to work as interns during their gap years with Jackie Pullinger in Hong Kong looking after Chinese heroin addicts; an experience which has been life changing for them all – see: St Stephen’s Society in Hong Kong. Many of our children have ended up at university together and it is always good fun to see each other – as we tend only to meet once a year.
It is undoubtedly due to the Holy Spirit working through these Stewards’ Trust holidays that all of us have grown closer to God during the years since we first came to faith on the Alpha Course in Japan; these holidays have been formational for us and our children and frankly I cannot thank the Stewards Trust enough.
The first week was an incredible event run by Holy Trinity Church Brompton called ‘Focus’. This is that church’s annual summer holiday but a number of the churches that they have planted throughout the UK also join with them and graduates from St Mellitus College (my theological college) are also welcome to attend.
The venue was Pontins at Camber Sands and we were either camping or staying in chalets. The music might not be everyone’s taste in the Itchen Valley, but for Lucy and me it was just totally amazing from beginning to end. Some incredible talks by a range of speakers (including the magnificent RT Kendall) and an opportunity for us to meet up with friends from my theological college St Mellitus College and others that we have got to know over the years.
There was a brief appearance by the Bishop of Winchester Tim Dakin promoting the new church being planted in St Swithun’s Bournemouth – the first one planted by HTB in Winchester Diocese – wearing some very fetching white sunglasses!
But the most encouraging aspect of the whole week was an interview which the vicar of HTB Nicky Gumbel conducted with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby who with his family stayed with us for the whole week. Archbishop Justin said that the lowest point for the Church of England had been a few years ago and that “Things are turning up. There’s a revolution going on and the future is full of the presence and power and life of Jesus Christ saving and loving and reaching in our nation and in our world”.
Its an exciting prospect.
Revd. Alex Pease