In July, BCC’s first summer conference this year was opened exactly 60 years after the first summer conference was arranged at Nedre Brunstad farm in Vestfold. Since 1957, the conferences at Brunstad have been a regular destination for many BCC members, and this summer has been no exception.
Text: Johanne Reiersrud – Photo: BCC
Childhood memories pour in for many, when the cars drive in on the forest road towards the rural conference area and the well-known view towards Vestfjorden opens up. Every year since the 50’s, the summer conference has been arranged here for the second and third week in July, and for many BCC members it has been a high-point of the holiday for several decades.
For BCC’s members, this place is linked to many good childhood memories. Photo: BCC
The increasing proportion of international members, combined with the conference facilities’ limited capacity, led to BCC deciding in 2005 to increase the availability by offering an extra conference in August. This fitted well with school holidays in Europe, and the proportion of international guests who participate at the August conference is therefore greater than in July.
The camping area at Brunstad as it looked in 1965. Photo: BCC
Large proportion of children and youth
This year there are expected to be around 15 000 participants at the two conferences, and over 30% of the participants are children under 15 years of age. The first conference opens 9th July, and is the one that is most visited. For this reason, it is a great joy that 242 new hotel suites are now ready at Oslofjord Convention Center and are just waiting for the summer guests to move in. The rooms are located in the recently finished hotel buildings on the conference center, that opened in June.
The participants can look forward to a varied and packed program in the course of the two weeks that the July conference lasts. There will be faith-strengthening meetings and feasts with preaching, musical elements, film shows and various forms of entertainment fitted for the various age-groups participating.
Choir in action during an earlier conference. Photo: BCC
Children can look forward to their own children’s days, with such things as musicals, games and entertainment. For the youth, special days are being arranged, with two fjord coastline trips where the participants are ferried by boat to one of the islands, one hour’s journey south of Brunstad. In addition, a series of activities are on offer between the meetings and feasts, such as the Brunstad Run and matches for football and volleyball.
Oslofjord’s new grass pitch is to be used when the football matches start for big and small players. Photo: BCC
All the activities, right from the opening meeting to the final feast, are arranged by BCC in cooperation with the various local churches. The Xercize and Activity Club associations are also cooperating partners in a number of the activities.
The Brunstad Run has been a popular event in recent years, for every age group. Here are some sporty women from Denmark and USA. Photo: BCC
A Great Deal of Voluntary Effort
BCC has a long tradition regarding voluntary effort, with widespread involvement for its conferences. In the beginning, everything was bases on work parties, but in recent years there has been a dedicated event department, where full-time employees work with planning the running of the conferences throughout the year. A large part of the effort surrounding preparations and implementation continues to be done on a work-party basis, and when the local churches from over 40 countries meet at Brunstad in July and August, different parts of the conference have been worked on several months in advance.
Ceremonious opening every year, here from July 2016. Photo: BCC
Many different functions are necessary in order to arrange a conference with over 10 000 participants. In all, the event department reckons around 50 000 hours have been invested in planning the various parts, as well as the practical running of the conference itself. Live translation to 17 languages, stage management, music, health and emergency preparedness, rigging equipment, sound, light and picture production are just a few examples of services that to a great extent are carried out on a voluntary basis during the conferences. BrunstadTV’s staff alone comprises over 130 volunteers engaged during the events. BCC is very thankful that so many members, year after year, put in a considerable amount of time and effort for the common good in a part of their holiday.
BrunstadTV is there where it happens, so that members from other countries can follow along with the broadcasts at home. Photo: BCC
Modern Facilities at Oslofjord
BCC rents the whole conference area from Oslofjord Convention Center, who is responsible for providing lodging, as well as running the conference facilities with all the accompanying service offerings. The complex’s capacity is used to its full when over 10 000 guests from Norway and abroad fill the place, and the managing director Tore Jørgensen believes it will be a great summer for both Oslofjord and BCC. – We are going to do our best to make it as pleasant and enjoyable a stay as possible for our guests, and we will also devote extra resources to offering good food service in the various price classes, from an à la carte restaurant to street food from external units. The new suites are ready, and we have just managed to finish the surrounding areas such as lawns, stone laying and child friendly play areas before the conference starts, he smiles satisfied.
Tore Jørgensen from Oslofjord Convention Center is happy to be able to offer the guests 242 new suites in the architect-designed hotel buildings that opened in June.
BCC looks forward to continuing to arrange the traditional summer conferences in modern facilities and wants to wish all participants a hearty welcome to this year’s Brunstad Summer.