23 Jul 2018

Gold Coast Conference

This year, the RP International Holiday Conference took place at the Gold Coast resort in Ireland from the 14th-21st of July. There were about 500 conferees in attendance, with representatives present from each of the five Scottish congregations.
We arrived on the Saturday evening just in time for worship and an evening of ice breaking games. On the Lord’s Day morning worship was led by Rev. Andrew Lytle from the Nantes congregation, and the evening worship was taken by Rev. Matthew Brennan from Clonmel Baptist Church. In the afternoon there was an interview with Rev.
Matt Kingswood and his wife Tara, a time of family psalm singing and a video update on the global church. After supper there was a talk given by Alanna Carson about her time working as an optician in Nigeria which ended with the kidnapping of her and her team by a gang. It was a real blessing to hear Alanna speak of God’s grace to her in an almost incomprehensible situation and His faithfulness in delivering them from it.

The main speaker for the week was Rev. Matt Kingswood from the Russell, Ontario RP congregation; throughout the week he spoke on the theme “Out of the Depths”, taking as his text Psalm 130. There were five addresses on this theme with the following headings:
1) Our Experience
2) Our Prayer
3) Our Worship
4) Our Patience
5) Our Hope

In addition to the conference addresses, there was also a choice of seminars each day on a wide range of topics including evangelism, bereavement care, conflict resolution, the importance of vows, and caring for pastors and their families. These seminars allowed the opportunity to explore a series of contemporary issues in the light of the gospel whilst providing both a challenge to action and the encouragement of shared experience.
While the mornings were spent in talks and seminars, preceded by times for prayer and psalm singing, the afternoons gave the opportunity to take part in activities both on and offsite with various master classes, water sports, and tours on offer; allowing time to meet other conferees and develop new skills. We then regrouped in the evenings for family worship. Our nights closed with an organised activity such as a quiz, concert or games, which provided great entertainment; and supper which provided another opportunity to meet with brothers and sisters in Christ.
There were youth groups running daily throughout the week covering all ages from the crèche which looked after 1-2 year olds to “Pioneers” for 16-20+ years and everything in between. Each of these groups were run by different conference attendees everyday and ran incredibly smoothly which was testament to the organisation of the committee and willingness of volunteers to help out.
One of the stand out elements of the conference is living in what is essentially a village of Christians for a week; nobody passed on the street without offering a warm greeting and everyday people were popping into each other’s houses to share a meal, to share in fellowship, or to borrow some cooking implement. During a time of reflection on the final evening, several people referred to the week as “a small taste of heaven” and with such a spirit of fellowship and the representation of 12 different nationalities, it is little wonder.  I would urge you to consider booking a place at the next conference which will take place in 2022 but, in the meantime, each of the conference addresses are available to listen to at www.dropbox.com/sh/8k234c9cmxbn8cs/AADvJ-VbicQytD7jktaY9Gzia?dl=0.
Gemma Macdonald