Two hundred and forty-three local church leaders, including 43 pastors, from around the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, attended the Reflecting Hope Training Retreat at the Leonardo Hotel, Hinckley, near Leicester over the weekend from 3-5 November, to share, learn, praise, and pray around the theme of 'Chosen'.
What is Reflecting Hope?
Reflecting Hope is the British Union Conference's response to the General Conference's Christ for Europe programme. It is a contemporary, lay-led, clergy-engaged, locality-appropriate evangelistic initiative supported by Adventist World Radio (AWR). In 2023, this programme was piloted to 62 congregations throughout the Union territory of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, North and South England.
Chosen for Mission
Gifford Rhamie, pastor, lecturer, and founder of Rockstone Consultancy delivered the opening session, 'I Saw the Lord', based on Isaiah 6:1-8. "Do you know God… His voice, His accent?" was one of his opening questions as he expanded the notion of 'seeing' God. 'How to deliver an effective Bible study' was the topic of Dr Rhamie's second presentation on Sabbath evening, using the 'Hook-Book-Look-Took' methodology of engaging seekers in Bible study.
Utilising the same passage of scripture, Ian Sweeney, Field Secretary of the Trans-European Division (TED), titled his first sermon, 'The King is Dead. Long live the King'. His thesis began recounting the death of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and crowds of mourners who paid homage to her as she lay in Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster. "At the height of the mourning, people queued for 22 hours," said Ian, "and the queue was 5 miles long."
He continued by detailing the disruption caused by the death of monarchs in any era, including the death of King Uzziah during Isaiah's lifetime. Despite the upheaval and the uncertainty, "God chose Isaiah" to deliver a difficult message to Judah.
His closing message on Sunday morning, also based on the passage from Isaiah, challenged the attendees to surrender to God with the words, 'Here I am, send me' in the knowledge that the task of mission will often be challenging and unrewarding.
The ladies led the morning devotionals. Heli Otamo-Csizmadia, TED Stewardship Director, believes that "God has a sense of humour" as she recalled her call to ministry from the nursing profession on Sabbath morning. Lecturer in Biblical Languages at Newbold College, Ivana Mendez, used visual aids as she explored the theme 'Chosen' in her Sunday morning presentation.
One of the weekend's highlights was the Sabbath morning mission report from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Natasha Dikivshka and Fillipe Lessa (Irish Mission), Wilfred Masih and Jimmy Botha (Scottish Mission), Ebenezer Daniel and Patrick Herbert (North England Conference), Adriana Fodor (Welsh Mission) and Royston Smith (SEC) delivered stories of witness and faith throughout the Union territory.
The reports varied from the direct proclamation of the gospel through traditional evangelistic methods to the cycling initiative of the Scottish Mission, who travelled to the Shetland Islands to deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Presence of the General Conference
'The Everlasting Gospel: The Good News of Total Freedom' and 'Hope for the World' were the two Sabbath presentations by Ganoune Diop, Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. In his second presentation, he asked the poignant question, "Are Adventists champions of hope?" He concludes that our message is based around the hope of the soon return of Jesus Christ as He provides hope for daily living while on earth.
The Reflecting Hope Core Team delivered teaching and learning. Michael Garkov, ASI Treasurer, taught Digital Evangelism; Christian Salcianu, ADC Principal, The Evangelism Cycle, Aftab Barki, BUC Assistant Treasurer, Planning and Preparation for Impactful Evangelism, Abigail Wright-Stephenson, BUC Project Manager, BUC Priority No 12 – Evolving Needs, and Catherine Anthony Boldeau, Reflecting Hope Co-ordinator, The Necessity for Demographic Data for Effective Planning.
As part of the pilot project, the team created a catalogue of resources for use by the membership to make evangelism more creative and relevant. An important seasonal resource is The Innkeeper's Story. Written by Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Women's, Health, and Community Services Director, it tells the story of the birth of our Saviour Jesus through the eyes of an onlooker, the innkeeper. To date, churches have ordered 50,000 copies of this resource for their festive outreach activities.
The Stanborough Press, the BUC Resource Centre, the Adventist Discovery Centre, the BUC Women's and Health Department and ASI had stands. It provided additional resources to complement those offered by the Reflecting Hope team.
Commenting on the weekend, one lady said, "At first, I felt inadequate. I'm here, Lord, but if you can, please send someone else. That was Friday. By today (Sunday), it's I'm here, Lord, send me. This weekend has done that for me through the Holy Spirit. Thank you, BUC. Thank you, Lord. I WILL GO!"
For more details about the weekend and to access the training materials used and the resources created (six videos and four podcasts), please see:
For more information about the Reflecting Hope initiative, please go to:
If you would like to discuss how Reflecting Hope can be utilised in your church, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org, who will discuss your request with the Reflecting Hope Steering Committee that includes the Ministerial and Evangelism Directors/Sponsors throughout the BUC.