Lay Conference 2014 report

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undefinedFrom 16-18 May at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, 120 people from across our diocese gathered for an inspiring weekend of teaching, workshops, worship and fellowship. Some of the delegates are PICTURED here as they pause on their way to one of the conference's many thought-provoking events.

Exploring the theme of what it is to be a disciple of Jesus in everyday life, the triennial conference drew together a wide audience of church members, reflecting a broad spectrum of traditions and churchmanship.

A varied and stimulating programme of events took place, with ample time also for delegates to relax and get to know each other over coffee and food, amid the exhibition stands, in the bar and while playing table tennis.

The headline speakers were Martin Cavender and Alison Morgan of the Christian mission renewal organisation ReSource, and Neil Hudson from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.

Delegates also had a choice of workshops tied in with the overall theme of the conference and led by the headline speakers, lay members and senior diocesan staff including Bishop of Chester Peter Forster, Archdeacons Ian Bishop and Mike Gilbertson, and Bishop of Birkenhead Keith Sinclair.

Throughout the conference, delegates had the chance to relax in the beautiful gardens and grounds of the conference centre while the Saturday evening entertainment was provided by award-winning Christian magician, Mark Shortland.
The four-person organising committee was led by Alan Dowen, supported by Giselle Rusted, Robert Reed and Jane Hood.

Reflecting on the conference, Alan Dowen commented: “We tried to create a varied programme that gave everyone a chance to learn, share and laugh together. There was widespread agreement that the speakers were excellent and really helped us understand what it is to follow Jesus in our daily lives.”

Archdeacon of Macclesfield Ian Bishop was quick to praise the weekend. “It was great to see so many church members get together and be part of an outstanding weekend with such a positive atmosphere and excellent Christian teaching.

“There was terrific input from so many different people and I have no doubt that all who attended will have left spiritually refreshed and wanting to attend similar events in the future.”

Feedback from delegates was overwhelmingly positive. Plans are already being made for the next lay conference, due to take place in 2017.

Below, delegates enjoy some relaxation in the garden at Swanwick