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New Treasures at Thrive

Now in its sixth year, Thrive is our annual conference for women’s ministry workers. Carys Woodbridge was one of those who went along for 48 hours of teaching, discussion and rest.

New Treasures at Thrive primary image

I nearly missed Thrive.

About four weeks before the conference, I was drifting off to sleep when I suddenly realised I hadn’t booked. The next day I contacted FIEC’s Women’s Ministry Coordinator Elisabeth Smyth, only to discover that it was fully booked. Disaster!

However Elisabeth was hugely helpful and somehow managed to squeeze me in – so I’m very grateful to the Lord and to her. I would have hated to have missed it. Let me explain why.

a meeting at Thrive

Thrive is a small conference for women in Christian ministry where they can come away from busy and often stressful church situations so that they can relax in beautiful surroundings and be well fed – physically and spiritually – and so continue to ‘thrive’ in their different contexts.

It’s an annual event and for a fair number of the women who go, it is an important part of the yearly calendar. This has certainly become true for me which is why I was so distressed to discover I nearly missed it.

Teaching and Discussion

Thrive is a 48 hour conference with three talks followed by three discussion times; an informal evening; free time; and a very helpful word of encouragement before we all depart to our various home and church situations.

a meeting at Thrive

This year, Sarah Allen from Hope Church Huddersfield took us through the first three chapters of Genesis. We were reminded of familiar truths but also discovered new treasures in this account of the Creation and Fall of Mankind.

  • I was reminded of God’s Word being God’s communicative act – seen in the creation account but also in the life of God the Son – when Jesus spoke, things happened.
  • I was also reminded how breath brought life – God breathed life into Adam after he had formed him out of the ‘dust of the ground’ and how Scripture is ‘God-breathed’ – so the Word of God is living.
  • In Genesis 3, there was the solemn reminder of how the Fall reversed God’s intended order of Husband, Wife, Animals when it became Animals (the Serpent), Wife and then the Husband in Adam and Eve’s tragic act of disobedience. But this was not the end of the story, Sarah very helpfully quoted a hymn by William Williams – ‘Faith, see the place, and see the tree where heaven’s Prince, instead of me, was nailed to bear my shame. Bruised was the dragon by the Son, though two had wounds there conquered One – And Jesus was His Name’.

I loved the informal evening where we met three of our group and learnt a bit more about them – how they came to know the Lord (all very different circumstances but the same miracle of grace) and how they came to be where they are now – serving Him.

chtting in the sunshine

It was a very encouraging time and a time to reflect on how different we all are but that God has put us where He wants us to be. I guess that at a conference like Thrive, there is the danger of comparing ourselves to others and feeling inferior as a result because we are not doing what others are doing, but hearing these three very different ladies speaking was an encouragement not to.

On the final morning, FIEC Pastoral Ministries Director Richard Underwood encouraged us to ‘Keep away from the edge’ as we looked at the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 – so very helpful and I was greatly encouraged by his honesty and the reminder of our great God and His care for us in our different situations.

Caring for Gospel Workers

There are so many things I love about Thrive.

I love the little gifts waiting on our beds when we arrive – a notebook and pen, a good Christian book to read, a packet of tissues(!) and of course some chocolate – we immediately feel cared for and understood!

I love Holland House and its beautiful gardens – living in London gives me a deep appreciation of the beauty of creation seen in this delightful place.

Holland House

I love the Bible teaching and the opportunity to discuss it and to take it deeper and to think practically.

I love the opportunity to meet up with friends made at previous ‘Thrives’ and to make new ones.

As the conference is quite small (25-30 people) it is possible to talk to almost everyone during those 48 hours. It’s great to meet with women doing similar work – to be encouraged in the Lord as we talk, to exchange ideas and to be ‘spurred on towards love and good works’.

If you know any women in ministry who would benefit from a few days away to relax, be well fed (in every way), enjoy beautiful surroundings and great fellowship with others, please send them to Thrive 2018.

See a few more photos from Thrive 2017

Carys Woodbridge photo
Carys Woodbridge

Carys works as the Pastoral Worker at ELT Baptist Church in Bow where she has been for many years. In her free time she enjoys playing the flute in a community band and watching Wales play rugby.