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Empowered for Ministry - Rural Parish Conference

This year’s Synod sponsored rural conference was held at the Mosgiel Presbyterian Church complex on Friday and Saturday June 21st & 22nd.  The committee had been organising the event for the past twelve months.  The theme was ‘Empowered for Ministry’ which was felt to be a topical subject for rural congregations given the ministry challenges that many face. 


Friday of the conference came along with the predicted southerly storm with heavy rain in some places and heavy snow in others. Lawrence Waitahuna folk were coming to lead worship on Friday night but snow kept them at home. This weather had started earlier in the week but the forecast said that it would improve by the weekend.  The committee made the decision on Thursday night that the conference would go ahead and those who had registered were told.  Some had to pull out because of the demands the storm was making on farms and others the difficulty of travel.  As we were setting up the venue on Friday morning the call came to say the motorway north of Dunedin was closed with snow - one guest speaker coming from that direction!  Then a further call to say the main road south of Dunedin was closed with flooding - other speaker coming from that direction.  Did we make the right call?  Faith was required.  Shortly, one who came from the north turned up - road open and then others from the south turned up no road closure.  (It was a side road to the main highway!)


In the end 35 people came and enjoyed warm fellowship, good food and excellent speakers whose messages were appropriate for the wider church not just rural congregations.  The speakers were Ian Hyslop for St. Andrew’s Geraldine. (Ian’s address  read ) and Peter Dunn now of Windsor Community Church Invercargill but previously many years in Waiapu,  Northland. (Peter’s talks one and two )


One different feature of this conference was the use of Table Topics on Saturday afternoon instead of workshops.  The organisers, in discussing the afternoon programme, thought that interaction over the farm gate of coffee provided good opportunities for sharing ideas and asking question rather than the workshop model.  So thirteen topics were provided, each with a facilitator.  Conference members were able to move around tables at will and engage with conversations, ask questions, swop insights and experiences and move along.  This was accompanied with continuous afternoon tea complete with nibbles at the tables.    Topics included; Doing music in small congregations, Crisis visiting, Discipling, Prayer, Youth, Children, International Rural Church Association project and others. The format proved very successful and there was great positive feedback.


Small numbers but a great time.


Next conference has been tentatively scheduled for February 27th and 28th 2015.  Mark that down and plan to be there.

Presbyterian Synod Of Otago and Southland.
Phone: {03} 477 7365
Fax: {03} 477 6736
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Level 5, Evan Parry House,
43 Princes St, Dunedin.
P O Box 1131,
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