Apr 102009

… and other choice quotations (or should that be quotes?) from Candidates’ Conference.

I’ve been away all week at my second Candidates’ Conference held at Gartmore. I am absolutely shattered but the week was really excellent. A bit of a mixed bag for the workshops – some really challenging ones and some that were a bit on the excruciating side. This conference’s theme was context and commitment, with a look at Urban Priority Area parishes, world mission, city centre challenges and much more. There was an excellent workshop on conflict resolution which could easily have been a full day.

Worship was good, lots of reflective moments and with an amazing communion service on Maundy Thursday evening. Communion is normally on the last day of the conference, but since it was Holy Week, it was more appropriate to have it on the Thursday. It was also decided to have it immediately after dinner, as we all sat at the tables at the end of the meal. When we had finished eating, we started reading various accounts of the Last Supper. A number of people had their feet washed. Then the bread was broken and, with the wine, was served and shared. After sharing the meal we then left the dining room and went into the garden where there was another reading and a song was sung. Celebrating communion in that context was enormously powerful.

The best bit, of course is the fellowship. It’s great to be able to spend time with other candidates and talk ’til silly hours of the morning about everything and anything, about God, life, hopes, family, friends, placements, supervisors, tough times, joyous times, trivia, the esoteric, the downright wierd and wonderful. And when you talk about everthing and anything it can get heated, funny, challenging, exciting and eminently quotable.

So, the top three eminently memorable phrases:

In third place, Howard, with “My, he’s a big one.” Howard’s 6’7″, preaches in a kilt, singes his hair on pulpit lights and was reporting the often-heard ‘whisper’ from the congregation when he first appears.

In second place, Daniel, with “It’s all about sex. Tom Torrance really does it for me.” The context was a discussion about the rubbish that women in ministry have to deal with. Daniel is Romanian, with excellent English, but an interesting turn of phrase at times. Tom Torrance is a theologian with good stuff to say about the power struggles in ministry.

But top of the pile, with a wonderfully quotable phrase, was Jane with, “Deep, deep down, men are really shallow.” Same conversation as Daniel and probably the best summary of the discussion I could offer.

And the UPA one? That was me. I feel no sense of call to a UPA and was fairly adamant about it in a conversation. I was made to sign a dated declaration of that so that it could be cast up to me when God decides that’s where He’s going to put me.