Peter Mclean reports on 2 weeks at the Keswick Convention:
“The Keswick Convention has been going for over 140 years. It was founded and grew as part of the Holiness Movement in the late 19th century. It focusses on the provision of solid Bible teaching to enable Christians to be more Christ-like in their lives throughout the rest of the year. Their motto is ‘Hearing, Becoming, Serving’. You can find more information on www.keswickministries.com.
Comfort International had an exhibition stand for Weeks 1-2 at Basecamp – along with over 30 other mission organisations – situated next to the Main Tent. The theme for this year’s Convention was being ‘Grateful’. In Week 1 the main Bible teaching was by Alistair Begg on 2 Timothy and in Week 2 by Jeremy Mcquoid on Ephesians 1-3. As well as the main teaching, there were excellent seminars across the venue sites. Two notable seminar streams in respective weeks were Glynn Harrison on ‘Identity’ and Paul Mallard on ‘Gratitude in all circumstances’. You can see these, and other excellent material on the Keswick Ministries Youtube channel.
I have gone to the Keswick Convention for twenty years, and I felt it was essential for Comfort International to be represented there this year and, hopefully, on an annual basis. The attendance over the 3-week Convention is in the range of 12-14k people, with weeks one and two being the busiest. Attendees come from all denominations of churches from all over the UK. The Keswick Convention ‘key verse’ is Galations 3:27 – ‘all one in Christ Jesus’. The importance of Comfort International being represented there is that this will help increase awareness of our work across the UK and beyond, by increasing our supporter base and expanding our volunteer network.
Having a stand at Basecamp was fruitful in many ways. Many were keen to have conversations about the work of Comfort, take away some information, and discuss the possibility of their church having Comfort to speak at some point in the future. I have already had many pledges from those in church leadership positions to try and arrange this for the coming months and year. Some individuals I spoke to were keen to become involved in volunteering, and two individuals expressed a specific interest in the vacancies we advertised. Although few are prepared to sign up to support a new organisation right at the outset, many come to the Convention prepared to prayerfully consider this on their return home. To my knowledge, we have already received a generous donation from someone in England on their return home after Week 1. The Crafts jewellery was very popular. Nearly all the earrings and bracelets were sold, and although I have yet to calculate the total income, I know that this will be hundreds of pounds. There were also excellent opportunities to network with other Missions organisations, investigating where our work and theirs could perhaps compliment and partner alongside each other in Africa.
Being our first time there, I was glad to do the full two weeks on my own, in the absence of a team of volunteers (this time round). This was tiring but rewarding. The Basecamp was open from 9am-10pm, which made the days long, but often the afternoons were quiet and I could take a break, rest and enjoy the sunshine! Next year I hope that we will have a small team of volunteers who may consider attending the Convention and be able to offer some assistance by representing us occasionally throughout the week.
As with all these types of events, they are only the beginning of new opportunities, and much must be made of following these up and making the many interactions count in a positive way. I look forward to doing this over the coming months. If you would be interested in finding out more about the Keswick Convention, assisting Comfort International next year, or at any other public events in the future, please get in touch and I would be happy to discuss this.
Gratefully in Christ,
Peter McLean, Church Relationship Manager”