Ready for a summer of conferences and fellowship
Summertime is peak season for Christian conferences and BCC is no exception. This summer, almost 18,000 members from home and abroad are signed up for the two conferences at Oslofjord Convention Center. This is one of summer’s highlights for many of them.
Tekst: Johanne Reiersrud – Foto: BCC
The adults look forward to spiritual replenishment at the meetings and edifying gatherings. There are children’s days and activities during the entire conference period, and several theme nights for youth where the Bible’s message is communicated in an easy-to-understand way.
Creative ways to convey the Christian gospel are used at different theme nights for the youth. Photo: BCC
An international community
When several thousand believers meet for a few hectic summer weeks, a Christian community materializes which is of great importance to the international unity of BCC.
About 40% of the conference guests come from countries outside Norway, and this summer there are more international participants than ever before. Oslofjord’s conference property is filled to capacity by BCC during these summer weeks.
Conferences for more than 100 years
“Thanks, loving God, Thou has called together, a little faithful flock from west and east,” wrote Johan Oscar Smith in 1922, when the church was still an unorganized flock of friends with their first permanent gathering place in Horten. The tradition of gathering for annual conferences goes back more than 100 years.
Today BCC is an officially registered faith community with over 8000 Norwegian members and presence in 57 countries, but a reverent mood pervades the hall when this song is sung at the summer conference opening in 2018.
The main hall at Oslofjord was crowded, and anticipation for the coming conference filled the room during the opening meeting on Friday, July 20th. Photo: BCC
Strong support for traditional summer conferences
Several generations of BCC members have spent their summers at Brunstad, and they have many good memories of the place where BCC has held its conferences for over 60 years.
In 2005, BCC began organizing two summer conferences each year to accommodate all the international guests who wanted to participate.
For the past few years, Oslofjord Property has been responsible for the major development of a hotel complex, and this summer two new buildings are ready to host guests in modern and practical family suites which will ensure good experiences for the next generation of conference visitors.
Next generation conference guests: many new families have lodging at the conferences after the new hotel buildings were finished at Oslofjord. Photo: BCC
Financial support for those who need it
For many years BCC has provided financial support to people from countries with low purchasing power so that more of them have the opportunity to visit the conferences and take part in spiritual edification. This is also the case this year.
The manager of the BCC Arrangement Department, Lise Larsen, says that this year 460 people have received invitations with financial support for accommodation, food, or travel expenses.
There is great interest in traveling to BCC conferences in Norway both for people from countries in this group and from other places.
Mentor program: guests who come to Brunstad for the first time, are welcomed by their own “Brunstad Buddies,” who introduce them to the options on the schedule and contribute to the formation of new friendships across many cultures and borders. Both Noemi from Australia and Anne Kari from Drammen are involved with this. Photo: BCC
In addition, the spiritual edification from the conference is sent via BrunstadTV to members worldwide. The transmissions are translated to over 20 languages and are also viewed by hundreds of BCC members who are not able to attend the conference.
Volunteers plan children’s activities
Almost 50% of summer conference guests are children and youth 20 years or younger, and therefore BCC has placed extra focus on targeting this group.
Several local churches have been involved, including a northern German church whose members have planned and organized daily activities for all children between 8-12 years old. “Many young people and adults are committed to creating good experiences for the children,” explains Lise Larsen.
Children can come to “JuniorPoint” every day and make use of a creative zone, a gaming zone, and a “chill” zone, in addition to different theme days, for example “Wild West day” as pictured here. Photo: BCC
A summer focus led to updated options for various target groups
“Since January, the BCC Event department has had extra focus on the 2018 summer conference. With help from volunteers from various churches, we have improved product options available during the conference,” she says enthusiastically. “It is fantastic because the whole organization is encouraged to contribute, which leads to a more international dimension and stronger ownership of the event. The goal is for activities available for the various age groups to create a good experience for all,” concludes Larsen.
From Family Day the previous weekend. Many of the guests have used the opportunity to vacation with family and friends the week before the conference started.