Biblefresh festival in Nottingham & Derby district

Saturday 29th January 2011 is a day that will linger in the hearts and minds of the people of the Nottingham & Derby District for months to come. The day started early at Chilwell Road Methodist Church, Beeston as an army of willing volunteers from the church and around the district made the premises ready for the onslaught of nearly 200 guests at the Biblefresh Launch. After receiving their lanyards and badges signifying which workshops they had booked into, they were greeted by a warm drink.

The Chair of District, Revd. Loraine Mellor, welcomed the enthusiastic gathering and handed over to three representatives from Nottingham's Central Mission, 'Life at the Centre' who led an excellent Bible-focussed worship time. We then prayed for David Willis and Simon Rose, members of staff at 'Life at the Centre', as they continue on their journey of candidating for the Methodist Ministry.

To set the scene, Revd. Jenny Ellis (Connexional Team) and Revd. Rob Cotton (Bible Society and Evangelical Alliance) led a session entitled 'What is Biblefresh?' to explain the meaning and purpose of the year before us in terms of celebrating and promoting the Bible. The Bible is the one book which "reads" me. Jenny challenged us, reading the Bible is subversive. It damages preconceptions, challenges stereotypes, transforms people's lives and brings grace and justice into communities. She also touched upon the exciting venture being undertaken right across the Methodist Connexion - 'The Handwritten Bible' - where each of us will be asked to contribute towards a hand-written Bible for presentation at this year's Methodist Conference in Southport.

Dr. Stephen Travis, former Vice Principal of St. John's Theological College in Nottingham, gave a talk entitled '10 things I didn't always know about the Bible', helping us to blow away some of the cobwebs and reveal a more holistic understanding of the book with which we sometimes struggle.

The afternoon included a talk entitled 'Biblefresh and Discipleship' where Revd. Jenny Ellis teamed up with Revd. Dale Sherriff (Inspire Network) to explain the link between Biblefresh and the nurturing of a deepening relationship with God in our lives. Then, Nigel Adams, director of Hope Nottingham and Alpha Advisor for Nottingham, reflected upon how the Bible can help us to reach out in our communities to the most vulnerable, deprived and hurting people.

The day was rounded off in reflective style by Liz Babbs who presented 'Bible Alive'. Liz is renowned for her inspirational books like 'Celtic Heart' and 'Into God's Presence' and she helped us to meditate and reflect upon the riches of God's word.

As if this wasn't enough, attendees chose any two of eight hour-long workshops entitled 'Biblefresh in the Community', 'Biblefresh & the Over 55s', 'Biblefresh & Worship & Preaching', 'Biblefresh & Schools & Children', 'Biblefresh & Arts, Crafts, Visuals', 'Reading the Bible in new & creative ways', 'Biblefresh & Discipleship' and 'Biblefresh & Young People'. How we managed to fit everyone into the time and space available was nothing short of a logistical miracle. Over lunch we held a market-place which was home to a number of exhibitors offering further resources to help us during 'The Year of the Bible'.

So, this is just the beginning. The aim of the day was to envision, encourage and equip people from across the district so that they can take Biblefresh into their churches and communities. My work will be cut out helping them do to this, especially in terms of 'The Handwritten Bible Project' which has already aroused the interest of BBC Local Radio.

For further information please see the District Web Site - www.methodist-nd.org.uk.

Roger G Johnson (District Evangelism Enabler)

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