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07.09.2007 15:12 Age: 9 yrs
Category: Front Page

Inspirational diocesan conference prompts discipleship focus

Clergy, Readers, diocesan advisers and other worshippers from across our diocese enjoyed a four-day conference in Chichester.

Conference delegates enjoyed a picnic outside Chichester Cathedral between speakers

Entitled 'Inspiring Discipleship', the conference included world-class speakers, a variety of styles of worship, great food and an excellent chance for delegates to get to know each other better. For the first time, the conference wasn't just open to clergy, but was also attended by Readers and other prominent lay people.

A whole day was spent in Chichester Cathedral, which allowed other church members and community leaders to join delegates listening to Abbot Notker Wolf and the Rev Dr Sabina Alkire.

The speakers included the Rev Steven Croft, Archbishop's Missioner and team leader of Fresh Expressions, who helps Anglicans and Methodists explore new ways of being 'Church'. He helped explore a vision for church in the 21st century (click here for the full text)

Abbot Notker Wolf, the current Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation of the Order of St Benedict - and a rock guitarist - spoke about the disciplines of Benedictine spirituality in the cathedral (click here for the full text). And the Rev Dr Sabina Alkire, director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, spoke of the Christian response to global poverty later that afternoon (click here for full text).

Professor Larry Hurtado, Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, spoke about the swiftness with which the earliest Jewish Christians accepted Jesus's divinity - and the implications that brings for us today (click here for full text).

The Rev Professor John Barton, from Oxford University, was due to give Biblical reflections each day, but was unable to attend the conference. However, his addresses were read out during Morning Prayer (click here, here and here for the full text of all three).

Among the other highlights of the conference were the Friday Fridge-style Night Prayer, which interpreted the liturgy of Compline as a series of interactive prayer stations; a lunchtime picnic outside Chichester Cathedral; and presentations by diocesan youth and children's adviser Ben Mizen about how to inspire young people, and by the Rev Peter Moger, the Archbishops' Council national worship development officer, about the work of the Liturgical Commission.

Bishop Kenneth issued a call to prayer for a month at the conference during a presentation on our new Kairos: Buildings initiative. Read more about it here.

Entertainment was provided by Church Times cartoonist Dave Walker and musician and priest Tom Kennar; there was a specially-created Night Prayer service put together by young people from the parish of Wootton; and the final morning was given over to an Extended Eucharist which included discussion in groups and an anointing with oil to signify our ministry in the diocese.

Reader Ann Hilliard, from St Wilfrid's, Cowplain, said: "I'm glad Readers were invited, and I found it enjoyable and informative. I felt Abbot Notker was the highlight. He made Tuesday very special."

The Rev David Hinks, from St Mary's and Holy Trinity, Cowes, said: "It was enjoyable, and an opportunity to catch up with friends and exchange news and ideas. I appreciated Larry Hurtado very much."

And Robin Green, a Reader from Holy Rood Church, Stubbington, said: "I thought it would be awful, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was so much breadth in the conference. There really was something for everyone. No two services had the same atmosphere."  

To see more photos of the conference, click here. A DVD of the four main speakers is now being put together and will be available shortly - check back on this page to find out how you can order one.