Fifty years ago, a Bible Convention was inaugurated in the Shropshire village of Donington by a group of Christian men.
The committee was formed under the leadership of Rev. Paul Houndsfield (Anglican vicar of Donington). Also involved were Dennis Moore (vicar of Wellington), Jack Stordy (a Wolverhampton business man) and others.
A marquee was erected on farmland near the parish church for a weekend of non-denominational, expository Bible teaching.
Since then, on every second Friday in June, the convention has gathered under the banner, ‘We will listen to what God the Lord will say’ (Psalm 85:8).
Until 1990, the chairman had traditionally been the Anglican vicar of Wellington, but in that year John Clark (the son of a previous vicar of Wellington) took over.
Sadly, with the outbreak of foot and mouth disease some years ago, the convention had to move indoors. A new home was found in the refectory of the Compton Campus of Wolverhampton University. This is now St Edmund’s Catholic Academy.
In the early years, two speakers (one Anglican and one Free Church) shared the teaching. One would speak on the Friday evening, both over the course of the two Saturday sessions and the second speaker would close the convention on the Sunday evening. In more recent times, a single speaker has been invited to speak at all four sessions.
2019 witnessed Richard Brooks speaking for the first time at the conference. He brought us three challenging messages from the oft-neglected book of Judges on men raised up by God for their time, focussing on Gideon, Jephthah and Samson.
He said how Judges is a dramatic reminder that, in terms of moral and spiritual declension, ‘today is the same’. However, he also reminded us that God is still the same – still gracious and still calling men and women to faith in him.
Friday night saw around 70 gather together with 50-60 attending either both or one of the Saturday sessions, bringing their picnic teas with them. Some even ventured outside following the summer torrential downpours that preceded both Friday’s and Saturday’s meetings.
The convention ended with a short but poignant celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Recordings of this (and previous) year’s messages, along with sermons from the Gornal Bible Fellowship Saturday night rallies can be found at www.wolverhamptonbibleconvention.org.uk.
Martyn Pearson – Secretary