The first ever diocesan Family Conference of the Diocese of UK-Europe and Africa was held at the Shephall Leisure Centre at Stevenage in Hertfordshire. It commenced on Friday August 27, 2010 and winded up on Sunday 29th.
The entire weekend concentrated on the theme “In the Lord’s presence, we have fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11). The conference was led by Diocesan Metropolitan H. G. Dr. Mathews Mar Thimothios with the prime speaker being Fr. Dr. Jacob Kurien, Vice Principal, Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam.
The various sessions of thought provoking talks and deliberations proved to be very fruitful as people opened up the discussions reflecting individual experiences and expectations raising further questions. The theme of the conference was delivered using various interactive techniques appropriate to the age such as prayers, music sessions, classes, seminars, workshops, outdoor games and reflections. The combined as well as group sessions helped to bridge the different ages. The Congregational Choir provided the platform for integrating the participants into the spiritual mood of the conference by delivering a mix of traditional and contemporary hymns in Malayalam and English, which was a highly spiritually uplifting experience.
The Evening Prayer on the Saturday was followed by ARCHANA, a 90 minute sweet and rich Christian cultural experience conducted in the most professional of styles. The choir led the crowd in singing intercessory prayers & folk songs specifically orchestrated for the occasion. Lyrics written explicitly for the event added to the aura of the evening. Christian art forms indigenously developed by inspiration from the Indian sacred dance culture to propagate Christian themes and prayers helped to enhance the spiritual environment of the occasion.
Noteworthy portraits included an adaptation of Psalm 150 portraying the ways to praise God using mudras and adavu belonging to Bharatnatyam traditions, an enactment of the story of Joseph and his dreams enhanced beautifully by employing Margamkali and classical dance forms, an elegant transformation of Thiruvathira to suite the Christian theme of symbolizing God as the Light of the world, a graceful Mohiniyattam with rich lasya movements combining the elegance of Bharatnatyam and the dynamism and vigour of Kathakali describing the mercy and grace of our loving God. Other acts included a Boys Margamkali reminiscing the ancient Saint Thomas Christians’ adaptation of the story of Adam and Eve and their temptation which forced them to leave the Garden of Eden, a Dandiya Raas narrating the wonderful and delightful creations of our Lord and Parichamuttu Kali, a dance form using the keralite martial art form Kalaripayattu with swords and shields.
Relentless practices and combined efforts of the participants backed by the cooperation and support of friends and families combined with the emotional build up and team spirit contributed heavily towards the spiritual enlightening of the occasion. The benefits of being part of such a positive network of family and friends within a spiritual atmosphere enhancing personal, socio-cultural and spiritual development are invaluable.
The first Diocesan Family Conference was truly a blessed occasion for study, worship, fellowship and relaxation.
For related links
UK-Europe Africa Diocese
St. Gregorios IOC, Brockley, London
St. Thomas IOC, Edgware, London
St. Marys IOC Bristol
St. Stephen’s IOC Birmingham
St. George IOC Manchester
St. Thomas IOC Dorset
St. Thomas IOC Cambridge
St. Thomas IOC Sunderland
St. Gregorios IOC Belfast
St. Thomas IOC Liverpool
St. Marys IOC Coventry
St. Thomas IOC South Africa
St. Thomas IOC Dublin