Ever since the church began over 100 years ago, the conferences have been central, and for over 65 years they have been held at Brunstad. The conferences are an oasis for faith-building, fellowship, and friendship across nations, cultures, and generations, and have been crucial to the church’s development as an international community.
In the last decade, the conference facility at Brunstad, which BCC rents for its conferences, has been expanded by NOK 3.6 billion. Now it is finished and has become a unique place to further develop the conferences and youth camps. For BCC, it is an important part of our objective to be able to ensure that the next generation can also have opportunities to gather around the gospel.
We meet the leader of BCC Event, Peter Tischhauser, a very enthusiastic person, ahead of this weekend’s conference.
“The corona pandemic has put the planned development on hold for a couple of years, but now society has opened up, and we are where we need to be,” he says.
Peter is not unfamiliar with organizing large conferences, as he has previously led the work of developing the international youth camps. These have been a great success, and now, the camps engage the young people all year round.
This is BCC Event:
- A non-profit foundation and member of the BCC Federation
- Plans and implements all international events the religious community has at the Oslofjord Convention Center
- All the foundation’s events are non-profit and Christian, and based on the beliefs of the BCC Federation
- The organization is under development, and is led by Peter Tischhauser
The conference format is being upgraded
Now he is looking forward to taking on the challenge of developing the conferences further and is already well underway. But to get to grips with the background to the changes that are taking place now, we need to take a few steps back.
“Parallel to the development of Oslofjord, BCC Events has prepared for the future by developing the form of the conferences. 2022 is an important year for us, where a lot of new things are happening.”
Last year, the Assembly of Representatives supported both the conference plan and BCC Event’s budget for 2022, which includes nine conferences and four youth camps. These events follow a new concept for conferences.
“Originally, we were to gradually move over to a new conference model from 2019-2020,” says Peter, “but the corona pandemic caused the development to be delayed.”
He adds that the new concept will be further developed and significantly improved over the next few years.
Some of the most important changes from 2022 are:
- Conference programs that more clearly support both the fellowship between the local churches, but also the international unity, across countries and cultures
- Local churches become more involved, participating in the further development by contributing voluntary efforts to create content for the conferences
- New meeting places and arenas for fellowship with meals as an integral part of the conference program, meaning everyone participates on equal terms, no matter where they come from
- Increased space for activity and enjoyment for children and young people by using multi-purpose facilities and areas for activities during the conferences
- Larger areas and increased scope of the conferences result in increased participant prices
The renewal leads to new prices
All local churches have been informed about the conference plan, program and prices for 2022 in order to plan their participation. There will be an increase in participation fees compared to previous years.
“The opportunities we have after the expansion naturally entail a change in the way we gather, and 2022 marks the start of a new era that we have very much been looking forward to,” says Peter.
Around 30,000 square meters will be available when the church now gathers again. It includes, among other things, a multi-purpose facility that provides great opportunities for children and young people, new areas for fellowship and meals, a large kitchen that can serve several thousand at the same time, and a large hall with state-of-the-art technology.
“Of course, it costs a good deal if you plan to travel to conferences nine times a year, but here it is important that everyone considers what they want to prioritize. I really want everyone to see the value of us now being able to use the facilities in new and innovative ways, and the prices also reflect the total deal you get in the program,” Peter remarks.
Example – Easter Conference
The following is included in the price the local churches pay for the conference:
And this is what it costs:
The conferences bring the church together
“Our intention isn’t to facilitate for everyone to eat in their own hotel room when we are together here,” says Peter.
He emphasizes that fellowship around the mealtimes and activities for children and young people is a conscious development on the part of BCC Event.
“Shared meals throughout the conference mean that everyone participates in the fellowship program on equal terms,” says Peter and continues: “This reduces the risk of loneliness and exclusion among those who do not have a large family or many acquaintances at the conference.
“This is also the reason why many activities for children and young people are included in the price – this means that everyone participates on equal terms when they are here, without having to pay extra for these arrangements.”
Since we are now in a transition period, and it takes time to get going again after the corona pandemic, BCC Event has also urged all those responsible in local churches in the West to be aware if anyone with special financial challenges may need support. Friends from countries with low purchasing power have for many years received support to be able to participate at conferences.
This year, three Norwegian local churches are testing a more means-based donor service, and in addition they have chosen that they will participate in the conferences together and thus also include the conference in the church budget.
For 2022, BCC Event has planned nine events. This is an increase from before, and Peter explains some of the background for this.
“We have usually had six to seven conferences a year, and ever since 2005, we have had to organize two summer conferences to accommodate everyone who wants to come. This year we see that the capacity for both the Easter and New Year’s conferences will be filled to bursting. Last fall, when it looked like the corona pandemic was in decline, we invited participants to two extra weekend conferences, ‘Brunstad weekends,’ to compensate for cancelled conferences. This was a great success with several thousand people registered, and we will therefore continue with this, this year as well.”
The first conference in 2022 will be held this weekend, where 4,700 women aged 13 to 100 are gathered. It has been two years since the last time there was a sisters’ conference, so there were great expectations attached to the event.
Anne Bali from Maubach in Germany is one of those attending this weekend’s BCC Conference. She comes here as often as she can and has planned to travel to Norway with her family several times in 2022.
For me, the conferences are always a festive occasion. Every time they give me a real ‘boost,’ which I need. And our children love to be at the conferences at Brunstad; there is no question whether they will come. Although it requires effort, the whole family’s expectations and excitement are very high, and it is definitely worth it. For example, the multi-purpose facility with all the activities is like a magnet for the children. They already have many ‘Brunstad friends,’ and the bonds of friendship that are forged are for life.
Another person who has a long life with trips to Brunstad behind her, is Lydia Nielsen (84) from the church in Oslo Follo, Norway. She has raised a large family and lived in Switzerland for 55 years, and has many memories from the car trips to the conferences in Norway:
It often took three days before we arrived, we spent the night with relatives along the way and ate packed lunches at picnic areas. It was cramped in the car, with car-sick children and quite hectic, and we were all happy when we arrived. However, what I think of is the help and guidance for life we have received at the conferences. I also see with joy that this is passed on in the family; from generation to generation there is great enthusiasm for the conferences at Brunstad. Now I am really looking forward to coming to the conference again and being built up in the faith with many good friends.