FIRST EVER WELSH MISSION CAMP MEETING
Allan and Janet Handysides
5th October 2016
Over the weekend of Friday 30 September to Sunday 2 October the Welsh Mission held its first ever Camp Meeting, at the beautiful if somewhat isolated Christian Conference Centre of Cefn Lea, near Newtown. Speakers for the health-themed weekend were Dr Allan Handysides, Associate Health Ministries director at the General Conference, and Mrs Sharon Platt-McDonald, Health and Women's Ministries director at the British Union Conference.
In his Friday evening devotional Dr Handysides caught everyone’s attention with a clinical analysis of the story recorded in Luke 8, of a woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. Speaking as a physician he painted a picture of a gracious healer – one who cared enough about the patient to ensure that she was restored completely: physically, spiritually and socially.
Despite his in-depth medical knowledge Dr Handysides deliberately chose to focus on grace. "I’m not a vegan," he said. "Not that there’s anything wrong with a vegan diet, but by placing an undue emphasis on diet we can attract certain people for the wrong reasons." He went on to say that some five percent of the population have 'orthorexic' tendencies; that is, they are obsessive in pursuit of a healthy diet. "The message of our church is salvation through the grace of Jesus, not veganism."
Sharon Platt-McDonald’s energetic style and infectious optimism generated a sense of wellbeing in all listening to her. There were, in addition, nuggets of wisdom which, upon reflection, had the potential to revolutionise people’s health. Particularly interesting was her presentation on "Resilience" where she outlined a series of biblically based principles to enable even the most harassed and persecuted to bounce back in the face of adversity.
Sharon also contributed to an excellent celebration of Women’s Ministries in the Welsh Mission. Led by current Women’s Ministries sponsor, Mrs Jennifer Rowell, this session highlighted the numerous retreats that the Welsh Mission women have enjoyed over the past few years.
The highlight of the Camp Meeting was a baptism. Paris McKenzie attends the Newtown church and lives with her family not far from the Conference Centre. An active member of the church youth group, Paris already leads out and preaches. Over the years she has grown in her faith and has completed a comprehensive series of studies with her father, church leader Kenroy McKenzie. On the day, Paris was supported by her two local ministers, Jeremy Johnson and Adriana Fodor, as well as numerous family members and friends who had come from the West Midlands to share the special day with her. The privilege of conducting the baptism was given to former Welsh Mission President Pastor John Surridge. Standing with Paris in the outdoor baptistery, under a sky which had only just cleared of rain, Pastor Surridge spoke of his warm affection for the whole family. "The McKenzie family are not just deeply spiritual," he said, "they also make Christianity fun. They do all sorts of interesting things and have integrated well into the Newtown community. They give Adventism a good name."
This, the first ever Welsh Mission Camp Meeting, was an experiment. "We weren’t sure how many would attend," said event organiser and current Welsh Mission President Pastor Emanuel Bran. "In the end we had a good group and everyone has said they want to come back next year. So, it looks like these Camp Meetings are going to become a regular fixture in our church calendar."
In the Conferences, Camp Meetings have been running for many years. Welsh Mission members and ministers alike were very grateful for the support of NEC President Pastor Richard Jackson who attended on the Sabbath with his wife Angela. Speaking just before he left, Pastor Jackson expressed his pleasure at having been part of the event and went on to suggest that, as the Welsh Mission is so close to the West Midlands, perhaps there could be cooperation on such events in the future. No doubt such an arrangement would be a blessing to both fields.