I’m home now…shattered and in a reflective mood. I really did enjoy the week, but after encountering God each day in a deeper way, I know he has plans for me that may or may not include me coming to Keswick with Prospects again next year. For the record, Lord, I really WOULD like to! I’m going to discuss what I learned and what I think the place of a separate stream like this has in Christian conferences, but first, let me tell you about the last day…
We were joined by my group from Leyland (the Good News Group) and they had a great time with us. We needed to pray for the elastic walls again, but just managed to fit everyone in. The highlight of the morning was singing and praising with our instruments, puppets and flags to “10,000 Reasons” … you know the one, “Bless the Lord, O My soul, O my soul, worship his holy name, Sing like never before, O my soul, and worship his holy name.” I felt like the room was full of angels praising along with us. It was amazing praising!
Then it was off to Fitz Park to have a picnic together.
Is the Keswick Convention Accessible to All?
Starting with the website I can find out that there are large print or Braille copies of the songs and that all the speakers and song words are projected onto very large screens around the main tent. It was also clear about access and disabled parking and the presence of BSL interpreters in the main meetings. All venues offered a hearing loop system. However, there didn’t seem to be a Braille or large print version of the programme but it was accessible on the website. The Prospects provision had its own page, under the title “special celebrations” https://www.keswickministries.org/convention/special-celebrations – what do you think? Is that a good description? I do think people would have a good chance of finding out that Prospects were there with a whole page to promote it, and it was in the literature booklets as well. One niggle, after changing our workshop day because Keswick changed our night on the main stage, the workshop was advertised incorrectly on the website. And our seminar wasn’t well advertised. I’ve already had a message to say that someone wanted to come but they didn’t know it was on.
I do think that generally Keswick Convention has a good attitude to including people with disabilities and inviting Prospects onto the main stage every year is a sign of real respect for what Prospects does. So many of the families said they could not attend without Prospects being there. When I came home I had a lovely email from a friend saying how Prospects providing services at Spring Harvest had meant that her whole family could attend that too. It seems such a small part to play but something that makes a huge difference to so many.
However, I came away from the meetings with a lot to read! Fine for me but overwhelming for those who can’t read, including some of our team members.
What these sessions at major Christian festivals does more than anything, is give adults with learning disabilities the opportunity to access good Bible teaching, grow in their faith and be encouraged by others who have the same kinds of challenges they have. And in our team, the chance to share their gifts and to serve others with a team who see them as ‘able’ to. The reason I work with adults with additional needs in my church is that there is often a focus on children with additional needs, which is great, but these children usually grow up and are usually adults for far longer than they were children. There is much work to do in both these areas across our churches, but I am so glad that Prospects, a small charity, is doing this work. I hope and pray that Keswick Convention will continue to support their involvement, learn from them, and that other conferences and festivals will invite them to contribute too.
They just might need a few more leaders if that happens!
Finally, I have to say how much I loved being able to use Molly to recap what we had learned each day. I hope she’ll be invited back next year too…