More than 100 people gathered at the 33rd Islands Study Conference in Tarbert. There were attendees from Rosskeen to Raasay, Sleat to Shawbost, North Tolsta to North Harris, as well as large contingents from other island congregations. The speakers at this year’s conference were Rev. Dr Sinclair B. Ferguson and Rev. Alasdair M. Macleod.
Not only was the Harris Hotel booked up with attendees, but also the nearby Hebrides Hotel housed many who came to stay in Harris for the weekend. Supplemented by others who came for evening sessions or the whole day, the conference sessions were well attended, with regular attendances of 100 people.
The theme chosen by Dr Ferguson was the sacraments. Over two sessions he unfolded the significance of the sacraments for our ongoing Christian life. Challenging listeners to imagine how they would describe what takes place at a baptism or Lord’s Supper service, he communicated with clarity and passion how and why we have been given these two signs and seals, and what difference they make to us.
Ullapool’s Alasdair Macleod took as his subject the ‘raw material’ of Peter, James and John, those apostles closest to Jesus during his earthly ministry. We saw how their characters were changed, shaped and moulded to become useful instruments in the hand of God.
Norman Macleod, chairman of the conference committee and an elder from the Stornoway Free Church, summed up the weekend by saying, ‘It was a genuine privilege for us to be in Harris this weekend. The conference was a very special time, with many commenting on how this weekend ranked as one of the best conferences we have had.
‘Thanks to our speakers and all who attended. It was so heartening to hear some first-time attenders commit already to next year’s conference’.