From Sabbath 13 to Thursday 18 January 2024, the British Union Conference (BUC) hosted 22 newly appointed pastors, interns, and Bible workers who have responded to the call of mission within the UK and Ireland at its offices in Watford. Under the theme 'Harmony in Mission', the orientation began with attendees being urged to explore the diverse churches in Watford and surrounding areas for a discussion later in the day. The intention was to enable the attendees to gather valuable insights as they visit congregations different from the ones they are used to.
The annual orientation programme is organised by the BUC Ministerial Secretary, Pastor Samuel Ouadjo and facilitated with the assistance of his counterparts from the South England Conference, Pastor Kwesi Moore and North England Conference, Pastor Julian Kastrati.
The intensive programme included presentations by guest speakers, Dr Gifford Rhamie, who discussed the topics of 'A Multicultural Church' and 'The Pastor as a Bridge Builder'. Dr Don McFarlane, a former president of the BUC, presented on 'Church Administration at the BUC Level'. The host of presenters included the BUC President, Pastor Eglan Brooks, who reviewed the topic, 'Organisational Structure, Pastoral Progression, Peer Mentoring & Peer Mentoring & Portfolios'.
Over the six days, more than 20 thought-provoking presentations were delivered, covering the gamut of church life, from reaching the British natives to learning from the mistakes of seasoned pastors and ensuring the safety of the church family. The participants were encouraged to think beyond their personal experiences, challenging biases and refining their perspectives on ministry.
Each orientation day started with a soul-stirring devotion led by one of the participants, as they emphasised the pivotal theme of staying connected to God. The resonating message among them was a collective understanding that, without God, their mission would bear no fruit.
The presentations were not just informative; they were punctuated by discernible humour that lifted spirits and accompanied by delicious food that left a lasting impression. The choice of the BUC head office as the venue provided an added advantage – the opportunity to meet those who tirelessly serve the church to make it a beacon for the world. Additionally, the BUC and its subsidiaries offered exemplary materials for equipping the church members, making everything needed readily available upon request.
While the meetings were paramount, a poignant concern dominated the discourse – the lack of native representation in churches across the British Isles. This sparked a collective desire among the participants to bridge this gap and reach out to the indigenous population. The underlying principle advocated for a community-focused church – one that not only thinks of its members but is fervently committed to the welfare of its community. The question that echoed through the gatherings was profound: Would the community miss us if we closed our doors?
So, what transpires when new pastors come together? The answer lies in 'profound reflection', exchanging experiences and insights, spiritual encouragement, professional development, collaboration opportunities, bonding, prayer and intercession, resource sharing, and network building. These meetings fostered a positive environment of mutual support, with the initiates forming bonds likely to serve them well in the expansive journey ahead. The symphony of these gatherings harmonised hearts and minds, creating a transformative experience that transcended individual callings to manifest a collective purpose in service to the divine mission.