Summer Christian outdoor events are a glorious feature of the diocese as this report from Alan & Val Golton in the Midi, in France. highlights.
Provence Praise combines the glorious light, scents and warmth of the Midi, with warm fellowship, good Christian teaching, lively worship, and Bob’s ‘deal of the day’ ? It would have been too hot to spend the days outdoors so we met in the subterranean, black-tiled, former disco of the Les Cadenières camp-site in the Var!
Welcomed by Bob Hurley, chaplain at Grenoble, we were 60 adults and 12 children, from several chaplaincies in France, and the UK. This number included our speakers: John & Ann Coles, leaders of New Wine; Dr Craig & Anne Smith, Lecturers Trinity College in Bristol and more recently Vancouver; and our excellent children’s ministry leaders, Robert & Kairene Warren, from the Episcopal chaplaincy at Clermont-Ferrand.
Each morning, from 9.45, Craig or Anne gave a lively, moving, Bible talk on the theme, Be prepared for anything! – followed by a choice of 2 seminars, one led by them, the other by John & Ann. Each evening, at 18.30, John & Ann challenged us, from Ezek 47:1-12, to experience more of the Holy Spirit. And, at each session, morning and evening, we sang praises, very ably and sensitively led by Matthew Hurley, and his group of fellow musicians.
The facilities of the camp-site – the bar, the restaurant, the swimming pool – and the optional events: a Moules Frites evening and a Paella evening – were enjoyed by most of us – and shared with the many French folk also on the camp-site! But Bob – and his able assistant, Ben Harding from the Lyon chaplaincy – also organised some excellent fun events specifically for us (a quiet siesta was an equally valid possibility)!
Some of us were accommodated in ‘mobile-home’ chalets, others in large ready-pitched tents, and yet others in tents they had brought themselves. Sited on a wooded hillside, it was an attractive place, and our week was enjoyed by us all – especially the opportunity for fellowship and deepened friendship with church members normally widely scattered, and making new friends among those from elsewhere.
The appropriateness of Craig & Anne’s theme was brought home to us by the attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, on the Thursday evening, 14 July. Bob & Jane were in Nice (to fly early next day to their son’s graduation) and thankfully were safe – but our hearts went out to the many bereaved and injured. Friday’s seminar time became a prayer meeting, as the most appropriate response to this tragedy for France. Two members of the campsite joined us for our evening prayer time on the Friday and both our presence and the events of the night before triggered some deep conversation and desire for prayer.
The week had begun at a temperature of 35 degrees (cooler at night!). High winds midweek brought a welcome cooling although our enthusiasm for Provence Praise did not cool, and we were glad to be told that a return event had been booked for 2017. We believe a holiday like this brings much blessing, and we strongly commend it to all diocesan chaplaincy members, their friends and families!