Following on from the successful online conference in November 2020, an in person conference at The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick took place from from 16-18 November (Tuesday-Thursday) 2021.
The conference drew together 13 of our national member churches, 16 Christian charities (a number of which are Bodies in Association), 3 Theological colleges, 3 other unity movements, 3 intermediate bodies. We heard inspiring and challenging keynote addresses. Firstly from Dr Sanjee Perera, the Archbishops Advisor on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, who encouraged us to “imagine the calling of all missionary disciples as the calling of the starling. Alone, they are pretty enough…in a flock, with no compass, or carefully rehearsed choreography, intuitively, starlings overwhelm our skies in grand cosmic poetry.” On the first evening we were sensitively led by Revd Dr Carla Grosch Miller practical theologian and poet in the chapel by candlelight as we collectively considered our experience of the pandemic and lamented in response.
Day two began with a powerful keynote from Dr Harvey Kwiyani CEO of Global Connections and leading Malawian missiologist working with CMS. He drew our attention to the fact that Christians in the global south make up a significant majority of Christians in the world. World Christianity has shifted from being a white European faith to be an African, Latin American, Asian faith. Harvey encouraged us to “enjoy the diversity that God has given us… Look at your friends, who is making you think about new things, read new books, talk about new topics?”
Throughout the rest of the day we heard shorter papers based around 4 key topics – Discipleship, Race and Justice; Discipleship and Climate Catastrophe; Discipleship and Evangelism; Discipleship and Formation. Some shared from local or regional perspectives, others bringing a global element to the conversation. Some shared stories of pain, exclusion and lament. Some hoped we could find better ways for implementing climate justice.
In the feedback we received from delegates after the event one said, ‘it’s encouraging to see that CTE is becoming a healthy subversive movement by giving platform to such a wide range of speakers, some from the margins’
One considered, ‘there is so much that unites us when we are willing to share our passion for discipleship and mission. We can learn from each other when we have time/space to listen and ‘do life together’ without rushing from one thing to the other or making assumptions about another person’s perspective.’
On the final morning we were thrilled to welcome Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, who encouraged us to work more closely together. Worship was led each morning by John Procktor from Catalyst Youth Trust, an ecumenical schools and youth work agency in Shropshire.
A copy of the programme is available below