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The Free Church of Scotland’s Annual Youth Conference meant a full house at Lendrick Muir. We asked Stewart Johnston a few questions about organising the weekend and the benefits for the young people who took part.
Our event was the Free Church Youth Conference and was held in March this year. It is an annual event for youth aged 16-30 and is held on the same weekend every year. It is promoted mainly to the youth in the Free Church of Scotland, but we welcome anyone from any denomination. People travel from as far as the Western Isles and we get people coming from a mixture of churches in Inverness, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow – basically they come from all over! We booked out the whole Lendrick Muir centre this year and were almost at full capacity with 158 people staying over the weekend.
Why did you choose Lendrick Muir? What do you like about it?
The Free Church Youth Conference is believed to be one of our biggest gatherings of youth, so to host 158 people, we had to firstly have a venue that was big enough – and Lendrick Muir is most definitely that! We have built relationships with the staff and personnel there for many years now and we hope this continues in the years to come. The location is brilliant for a weekend away – far enough away from reality to escape, but also close enough to nearby towns and cities (such as Perth and Stirling) to make travel pretty straightforward. The centre has a great main meeting room and lots of places to hang out and socialise. Although we didn’t opt for it, the centre offers an activity package which includes a ropes course, archery and mountain biking, which would be particularly brilliant for a younger age bracket.
What happens at the weekend?
We had three main meetings (Saturday morning, Saturday night & Sunday morning) where our theme was “James: Hearers & Doers”, during which our key speaker for the weekend – Rev. Calum Macmillan, Rosskeen Free Church – unpacked the book of James for us. Worship at these meetings consisted of both singing hymns with an accompanying band and a capella psalm singing. The facilities in the main meeting room at Lendrick Muir were great for this as we were provided with a soundboard and massive projection screen that was fantastic for singing and reading God’s word together. After each talk, we had discussion groups for a short while, where we chatted through questions prepared beforehand by our speaker.
We had a bookstall open throughout the weekend ran by Christian book company 10ofThose. Again, the space provided at the centre in a room just beside the main meeting room was brilliant for this.
On the Saturday afternoon, our delegates got a choice of two seminars on various topics led by speakers within and outwith the Free Church. There were plenty spacious rooms that housed about 40 people (and could have probably have hosted more) that were sufficient for seminars with some rooms providing projectors. There was enough seating and everyone seemed comfortable!
On the Sunday we had a separate guys and ladies seminar which focused on the topic – Living as a Godly man/ woman. We had spare time on the Saturday and the massive expanse of ground at Lendrick Muir lent itself brilliantly for outdoor activities and walks.
And what did you eat?
As far as food is concerned, we opted for self-catering. There were three dining areas that we used, and we were all watered and fed by cooks organised by ourselves. The dining areas seated around 160 people at each meal and we didn’t feel too squashed.
We had a brilliant weekend! The conference is great for spending time in God’s word together and singing praises to heaven with a room full of young people! God was working, I believe, through the main talks especially as James’ message on Christian character is hard-hitting but makes us look to Jesus, who had perfect character. I believe that through the talks, God was shaping us into people that look more like Jesus, and we pray this has an impact on the communities where we spend our lives.