More than 100 Christian leaders from across the North of England attended the Connected Conference, a single-day event hosted by Dewsbury Evangelical Church in March.
It was difficult to pick out the high points of this busy conference, as there were so many. In his first address John Benton, director of pastoral support for the Pastors’ Academy at London Seminary, reminded us of our absolute dependence upon the Holy Spirit for spiritual life and how this dependence finds expression in urgent prayer, as illustrated in the Book of Acts.
In his second address, responding to the sceptic’s taunt ‘No-one has ever seen God’, he pointed out that people living in the time of Jesus saw God. Today, sceptics should be pointed to a Spirit-filled church demonstrating the love of Christ. This is a particular challenge to us, but it has the potential to disturb the confidence of the unbeliever living in a world of moral disintegration and social isolation.
The conference concluded with Luke Jenner, pastor of Grace Church, Halifax, preaching on the majesty of God. This unique majesty is of a completely different category to any wisdom, power or joy that humans have, and demands the gasp ‘Oh!’, as in Romans 11:33.
The conference included time for shared news and prayer. We heard of the merger of two churches in Wigan; a venture in teaching the Old Testament in primary schools in West Yorkshire; imaginative opportunities to reach housing estates in Beverley and a multicultural part of Newcastle.
Daniel Grimwade, speaking on behalf of the European Mission Fellowship (EMF), following the sale of their large property in Welwyn, outlined a relocation of its home to the North of England. The plan includes a proposed EMF/London Seminary in the north of England.
A separate, sobering interview of John Benton by Luke Jenner highlighted the dramatic change in attitude of many towards Christians, now often portrayed as the ‘bad guys’. The conference addresses can be heard at www.connected-conference.co.uk