It could be some people's worst nightmare to spend 48 hours in residence with about 100 preachers. That's what my other half and I returned from in time to vote yesterday evening. It wasn't a nightmare and strangely enough only 2 sermons were preached within the 14 conference sessions.
The event was the national conference of the College of Preachers and the subject was 'Breaking News'. There was an impressive line up of speakers including the Head of Newsgathering at the BBC (the day before the UK election!) All were worth listening to, but there was too much input in too short a time with not enough time to digest anything. The worship sessions were led by a group of shiny new Salvation Army captains without bugles or tambourines but with drums, guitar etc. and some visuals and well planned intercessions using prayer stations that involved all 5 senses. I liked eating the chocolate after tasting the bitter herbs best!
As delegates we were mostly anglican or methodist, with a few from the Roman Catholic, United Reformed and other churches. The aim was to consider 'how in preaching do we connect the news of the day with the Good News?' I don't think I got an answer to that question, but came away with a lot to think about. The worrying thing I noticed was the age profile which was definitely (including me) on the mature side of 40 plus. That doesn't seem good news. Some older preachers were freaked out by the confession of the Director of The Church and Media Network that he uses 6 Avatars in his online second life and 2 of them are cats!
The accommodation and conference facilities at The Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire are good. The place has been transformed since I first stayed there as a student when it hadn't changed much from its WW2 prisoner of war camp legacy. I met some interesting and delightful people, including a clergywoman from the Episcopal church in Scotland whose blog RevRuth's Rantings I have regularly read for the last few months.