On Thursday 12th March 2020 we headed off to Leeds for the first extra-long AMiE conference! Excited delegates posted photos of their current travelling whereabouts: one from the motorway (hopefully not taken by the driver!); one from the London Underground and one from their bed! The theme for this year was “Devoted” – devotion to the apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42).
The conference began and ended with a prayer and praise session. These were centred around Psalm 145 and 96 and encouraged us to praise our great and majestic God and to thank him for his never-ending faithfulness to us, a very fitting way to begin and end. We then focused on the importance of devoting ourselves to the teaching of God’s word. Tim Davies reminded us of the truth, sufficiency, nourishment and power of the Bible and Fi Brondson illustrated this beautifully in the story of Mary and Martha, encouraging us to “choose the better part”, sit at Jesus’ feet and enjoy close fellowship with him. Richard Coekin demonstrated from Nehemiah 8 how important it is to have a high regard for scripture, teaching it clearly, celebrating it corporately and being obedient.
Friday began with morning prayer, a great reminder of our rich liturgical heritage, and also with a sermon from Tim Iles who urged us keep going in ministry and not become librarians! From Ephesians 1, we were reminded of our glorious inheritance and God’s power available for the survival, life and thriving of our churches, and so to pray bigger. Richard Coekin demonstrated how to use the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6 as a pattern for developing a close personal prayer life (such as a child has with their dad) and for growing a church that is devoted to prayer. And lastly, Jonathan Pryke helpfully taught on the importance of being devoted to the breaking of bread because it keeps the cross at the heart of everything we do. He challenged us to model forgiveness and grace, teach the cross and to consider how we treat the breaking of bread in our services.
Several delegates joined the conference on Friday night and Saturday. In light of all we had been taught, we joyfully took part in a communion service led by Andy Lines and were blessed by 1 Peter 2:9: “You are a chosen people…God’s special possession”. Leo Davidson explained how our identity is determined by Christ and so we devote ourselves to God and declare his praises to the nations. The closing talks of the conference focused on being devoted to the fellowship. Lee McMunn enthusiastically (how else?!) encouraged us to do Christian life together because it’s good for us, Jesus commands it and it’s a taste of our future eternity. And Matt Thompson gave some very helpful ways to facilitate fellowship: program for fellowship; model fellowship, be generous with your presence; and teach it because it’s counter-cultural.
In addition to the talks, we were updated by Andy Lines and the team on where AMiE fits into the wider GAFCON community. A considerable amount of work has already gone into this process and continues into the near future, so please pray for wisdom, clarity and guidance for Andy and the team. The phrase “Not just us; not just now” was central in reminding us we are not just building for ourselves in the here-and-now but for the future gospel ministry to others. We also had Prayer and Share groups for the first time, which were enormously beneficial for support and encouragement. As usual, the staff at the Crowne Hotel were wonderful hosts and we all enjoyed amazing food, comfortable rooms, the use of the gym and pool, and some even went for early morning runs!
If you have never been on an AMiE conference before, I would really recommend it! It is always a blessing and absolute privilege to spend time with people who really understand the joys and sorrows of ministry. Make sure you book for next year!
Written by conference delegate, Emma Iles