This is the report which appears in the Park Church Reading Magazine and written by Doreen Woods.
United Reformed Church Holiday Forum at The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire.
“God is Still Speaking”
One of the reasons why we go to holiday Forum can be summed up in some words of Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 6, verses 31-33. The disciples had just returned from their first mission in twos, without Jesus, and were full of what had happened, gathering round him to tell him. But “because so many people were coming and going that they did not have a chance even to eat, he said to them “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”. Well, Holiday Forum isn’t always a “quiet place” in the literal meaning of the term, and there are always plenty of people about, but nevertheless it is an opportunity to get away from the rush and preoccupations of daily life, to sit back and think about what it means to be a Christian.
I also thought, when Robert was talking about coming home, like the Prodigal Son, that for those of us who have been attending Forum for a number of years, that arriving at The Hayes Conference Centre each August is a bit like coming home too. There are the familiar buildings, the beautiful gardens and grounds with the lake, and all the people we meet year after year: familiar faces and also people there for the first time, new contacts with new insights to offer. One of the great benefits of Forum is the way one meets people from all over the country. We hear their stories, and about the many different kinds of churches they worship in; you are struck at the same time by their different experiences, and also how much the same things happen in URC churches wherever they are.
We were privileged this year to have Rev. Roberta Rominger, the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church as our main speaker. Her theme, “God is still Speaking” was very much related to the Reformed tradition in general and the URC in particular. God has not spoken once, for all (although history and traditions are very important), but continues to speak to us in many ways today – most of the week was taken up in thinking about how God speaks and how we must listen. Her other main theme was the inclusiveness of the URC, and what we have to offer to everyone; an advertising campaign is being planned, which will bring responsibilities to every church – watch this space!
(We can supply recordings of Roberta’s talks, and other sessions too – please get in touch for further details.)
There were many other memorable sessions – in particular the Worship with Heather Whyte (Evangelism Enabler and Communications Officer for the South Western Synod). Her All-Age worship every morning, linking a children’s picture book with a parable of Jesus, were meaningful for everyone, and I especially remember the Communion Service too – a new format and very moving. I joined a Discussion Group, exchanging ideas with many lively people.