Over two hundred people from across the British Union Conference (BUC) attended this year's annual British Union Evangelism And Mission Summit (BEAMS) that took place over the weekend, 18-20 November, at the Hinckley Jury's Inn hotel.
The summit highlighted the importance of building stronger families under the theme, 'Save the Family'. BEAMS is run by the Personal Ministries department of the BUC, but this year they collaborated with the Family Ministries department to organise the event.
The summit, which attracted attendees from across the British Union, and was also streamed online, featured seasoned presenters from the BUC and abroad to challenge their audiences to build stronger families and help others save theirs. The presentations included six plenary sessions and several workshops for attendees to join.
Dr Les Ackie, BUC Family Ministries director, began the summit with the first keynote presentation focusing on 'Our First Mission Field'. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:47, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart." He pointed out that God is giving us in this passage, the prerequisite for passing on our spiritual heritage. Ackie says to do that, God's love needs to be in our hearts before we can pass it on. So, passing on the spiritual heritage begins with the work we do within our hearts. He pointed out that parents need to nurture spiritual and emotional intimacy with their children. Ackie adds that "the heart of effective parenting is our ability to connect emotionally with our children." He says it is plain sailing from there if we can get it right in the family context. He made various references to the Bible and The Spirit of Prophecy to elaborate on his points.
Pastor Roger Hernandez, from the Southern Union Conference, animated his audience with his presentation on 'Saving the Family is Hard Work'. Hernandez reminded his audience that if we look through the Bible, every distinguished Bible hero we admire had drama in their family. He says one thing the Bible is not is that it is not drama free. Hernandez referred to Joseph, Moses, Esther, Ruth, and Abraham with chorus responses from the audience "drama". He showed that the life of David had multiple dramas.
He captioned his first presentation with three 'Ws' – 1. Family is Work. He quoted Hebrews 13:4, "Give honour to marriage and remain faithful to one another in marriage" to illustrate the first 'W'. Giving is one of the works in marriage to deal with our selfishness. 2. Family is Worry. Proverbs 12:25, "Worry weighs a person down." The worries come from caring for our children, being single, divorced, having rocky marriages, and having prodigal parents. 3. Family is Worth it. Revelation 21:3-4, "I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, God's home is now among this people! He will live with them, and they will be his people.'" He adds that, in the end, we will see the miracle of God as we go through the challenges of this life.
Hernandez, the main guest speaker, shared another message in the morning about 'When Mission Gets in the Way of Marriage' and a closing presentation on our children as the church of today.
The keynote addresses on the Sabbath included a presentation by Dr Jeff Couzins, pastor of Liverpool and Wallasey district in the North England Conference (NEC). His presentation focused on 'Studying the Bible with People from the Majority Culture'. He says there are ways to reach the majority culture and shares two objectives for doing that. The first is to sensitise the people present to the importance, relevance, practicality, and validity of reaching the majority culture. The second is to provide informed guidance for those attending in formulating a workable, achievable, and deliberate plan towards reaching the majority culture. He says we can reach the majority culture.
Pastor Stephen Apola, the General Conference Associate Publishing Ministries director, delivered the other Sabbath presentation. He focused his presentation on 'Literature Work in End-Time Movement' and asked, "Does literature ministry still have a role in today's digital society?"
Apola illustrated his presentation by referring to several Hollywood firms that purported to focus on end times and how this topic continues to be relevant to secular society. He prompted us to be aware of our niche in the community as we live in a world with ideology shapers such as the media. He says our duty is to prepare people to meet God by spreading literature.
The Sabbath morning presentations included a topic by Dr Annette Kenningham, from the NEC, who spoke on the theme 'We are Family' by making us aware of who is family when we talk about family. There was another presentation in the afternoon by Kathy Hernandez, who spoke passionately about 'Purpose, Plan and Parenting'.
Sunday started with a devotional by Divinia Reynolds on 'Building Family – Recapturing Them with Love'. The two plenaries on Sunday were by Dr Eric and Ann Bates from the Carolina Conference. Their topic focused on 'Discipling Teens for Christ Amid Secular Culture'.
The final plenary was a recorded message from Drs Willie and Elaine Oliver, the General Conference Family Ministries directors. Their message focused on 'The Family as a Centre for Evangelism'.
Dr Kirk Thomas, BUC Evangelism director, says BEAMS aims to equip members from across the BUC to engage in evangelism. So even though this year's theme focused on the family, its thrust was on evangelism. There were various workshops in the afternoon for attendees to engage with the presenters. The Stanborough Press were present to display literature for attendees after the Sabbath, and the ADC with their new and improved resources. Also displayed were various evangelistic literature written by Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Health Ministries, Community Services and Women's Ministries director.
The organisers also made provision for children under ten years and teenagers who attended the conference. The weekend summit also included musical performances by the singing evangelist Pretha Garnett-Radlein from Canada, a Praise team, and a poem by Anthea Davis Barclay.
The programme featured prayer sessions, testimonies, and a special presentation to the Media team for their dedication and for the memory of one of its members who died this year.
Photos by Kevin Thomas