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Faced with the challenge of providing an accessible location as well as an impactful experience for as many people as possible, the Greater Sydney Conference opted to host its annual training and resourcing event, Inspire, at Mountain View Adventist College in Doonside, NSW.  As a result, many who had not previously attended Inspire, as well as some who were regular attendees of Inspire at Merroo Christian Conference Centre in Kurrajong Hills, NSW, were able to experience the four-day event that included speakers and workshops.  In fact, several attendees stated that they enjoyed the venue because it was “closer to home and was less expensive.”  Others said, “it was very convenient in terms of distance and cost.”

The event kicked off with a series of regional meetings in various churches leading up to the main program commencing on Thursday evening as speaker Pr. Elbert Kuhn, who served as the Ministerial/Global Mission/Education Director from 2003-2009 and currently serves as the President of the Mongolian Mission, set the stage for his messages over the weekend.  Introducing the story of Paul, he highlighted the difference between joy and happiness in the life of a Christian.  At one point saying, “Getting what you want won’t bring real joy, but being grateful for what you already have will. Real joy comes from the Lord, not material things.”  In speaking about Pr. Kuhn’s sermons, Malcolm Rea, ADRA & Health Director and Prayer Ministries Coordinator said,  “I loved Elbert’s presentations.  I often find people from different cultural backgrounds provide fresh insights into the gospel and the personal challenges in our lives.  I found it to be refreshing and powerful for me personally.”

The theme of the event followed the Conference’s strategic focus of “Growing in Discipleship: Reach Up, Reach Out, Reach Across.”  Workshops were aimed at providing resources that fit into one of these three focus areas.  A powerful, angelic chorus by the musical ensemble, which included a variety of instruments and a quartet of praise singers, ushered the keynote speaker, Pr. Elbert Kuhn, into each service.

Friday morning featured an Anzac Day Remembrance Ceremony, led by Pastor Richie Reid, in which two Pathfinders, along with the school captains of Mountain View Adventist College presented the Australian flag.  Participants wore sprigs of rosemary as “an emblem of fidelity and remembrance.”

Throughout the weekend, workshops ranged from Andrew Skeggs’ “Guiding Your Friends on a Spiritual Journey,” which discussed what a person can do to help his or her friends at different points in their spiritual journeys to co-presenters Dannielle Synot and Linda Ross’ workshop about the challenges we face in developing authentic and connected relationships personally and as a church.  (To see the range of workshop topics, visit https://sydney.adventist.org.au/events/inspire-2014/).  Garth Bainbridge, Ministerial Association Secretary, stated, “I always find the workshops the most helpful part of Inspire because of the closeness and intimacy of the instruction that happens.”  Children were welcomed with special programming, which included drama, outdoor activities, snacks and crafts.  Youth were fired up by speaker Rome Ulia and also enjoyed a barbeque and other activities.

Those who attended left with a renewed spiritual energy.  One attendee stated she felt a “connectedness as a church because the inspiring relationship messages and the kids’ programs, which allowed the parents to attend and the kids to connect.”

The Greater Sydney Conference Administration is assessing feedback from attendees of Inspire to determine the format that will appeal to the membership going forward.  If you have any comments or feedback about Inspire 2014, feel free to contact us at [email protected]