When we were first checking out churches in London, we would have a look at their websites to sus out their theology and get a feel for their culture. One of the things that attracted us to Grace Church Brockley was the fact they were advertising a retreat called Word Alive, which that year would feature Don Carson and Mike Raiter, two speakers I was familiar with. We didn’t get to attend 2014’s Word Alive because we already had plans to visit Christine in Scotland and go to Turkey for Anzac Day. Instead, we made sure to sign up as soon as possible for 2015!
Word Alive runs for two weeks at Prestatyn in Wales, and you choose which week to attend. Our church went in week 1, leading up to Easter. There are different levels of accommodation or you can chose to stay off site. We stayed in an on site unit (somewhat misleadingly referred to as ‘chalets’!) with our friends Guy, Helen and Jash.
The mornings are made up of multiple strands that run in parallel – the main Bible teaching (this year given by David Cook on Romans) which runs twice, and then an elective – some of the topics this year were Deuteronomy, Relationships, and 12 Things God Can’t Do. Once you pick the elective strand you want to do, you then attend the alternate Bible teaching. The morning section finishes at about 12:45, and then it’s lunch time. Our unit did a combined grocery order and self-catered. Our meals together were some of my favourite times during the week!
The afternoons then has individual elective seminars you could attend if you wanted, and there were kids’ activities (often crashed by adults!) or you could just have free time. We had pretty awful weather – most of our marquees got torn apart in extreme wind one night – but we did manage a rather short visit to the beach one afternoon. Otherwise we played board games, visited the Hub (a book stall and exhibition centre for various ministries and charities), and gate crashed the kids’ activity centre (think inflatable slides and games).
There was then three evening sessions you could choose to attend – an early one for young families, or two adults’ Bible teaching sessions (this year on the topic of the Lord’s Prayer, given by several people) – the later one aimed at students. The music at the earlier one was lead by Stuart Townsend, which we really enjoyed. We would have dinner after this session ended at 8. There were also some late night social activities to attend, but we only went to one (a music session by Stuart Townsend). Andre also went to see a comedian with some others from church, but I went back to our room instead (we’d been visiting friends) and ended up watching it on TV (the event had its own TV channel so you could watch events from your room if necessary! This ended up being very fortunate as one session had to be broadcast after the marquee got demolished the night before and could not be personally attended at all).
It was a great week and we really enjoyed not only the teaching, but the time spent with church family. From Prestatyn we got on a train and headed to Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia for Easter!