Swansea & Brecon Diocesan Conference
November 11, 2014Swansea and Brecon's Annual Diocesan Conference this year was about Recognising, Receiving and Releasing God's Gifts in all God's people. After opening worship led by Rev Dr Ian Davies, Director of Ministry, the formal business of the day took place. Election results for the Representative Body and the Governing Body were announced. A new Diocesan Constitution has been drawn up and was introduced by Bishop John. The keynote speaker and group facilitator was another Bishop John, Bishop John Saxbee. He led a reflection on the Parable of the Sower noting that it could be seen as the parable of the soil, as the seeds were the same in each of the soil conditions mentioned. Good soil gives what would be a normal productivity, and fruitfulness is the product of good soil. At each table we were encouraged to note all the ways, normal ways, in which we as church people were 'people of the day' in the ways we help with different groups and organisations, different roles in church, different ways of helping others. Bishop John Saxbee talked about Jesus being about his Father's (a) house, (b) business, (c) people and suggested that maybe it should be left as space. Life is a hyphen (the hyphen between dates on a tombstone), with 'service being the rent you pay for the space you occupy'. We began a conversation about "What must be done to help discern and develop the gifts of God's people in your Ministry Area?" as a key question to be explored in developing Ministry Areas. He spoke about the need for training, and about the different gifts of people in the church. He offered ways to help us do what we do better, to see it as an enabling of people, and to increase confidence in what we do rather than to suggest that what we do already is wrong in some way. He likened a gift to being like a violin string – not attached to a violin. It has to be fitted, and tuned to an instrument for it to play music, there is an encouragement for training for the gifts that each one has in the church. He then picked up a violin and screeched the bow across it, saying that for it to be played well takes practice. Closing comments were given by Bishop John, and worship was led by the Gower Deanery lay worship leaders. Our final hymn was "Go forth and tell! O Church of God, awake!"