New Horizon is a cross-denominational family Bible week that takes place every year on the campus of the University of Ulster in Coleraine. It’s 25 years since the event started. Here are a few thoughts on some aspects of the most recent iteration.
- The weather! Well, it’s Ireland and the event was in August, so the weather was likely to be an issue (and in Ireland people like to talk about the weather). The week had a rough start with a day of very heavy rain (which must have caused some nervousness among the excellent team of site managers and stewards – who coped superbly); but despite some heavy showers here and there (which resulted in a magnificent rainbow on the Friday evening), the week turned out OK and the elements didn’t stop large crowds from attending.
- Platform speakers. The overall theme was ‘An Enduring Passion for His Kingdom’ and the morning Bible readings were taken by Vaughan Roberts from St Ebbes in Oxford. He led us brilliantly through the book of Daniel and what it means to live in the knowledge that the Lord reigns. Malcolm Duncan spoke on most of the evenings, looking at Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Rachel Gardner spoke on Sunday evening, encouraging a vision of the King as a way of cultivating a passion for his kingdom. The level of teaching was very high with a blend of insight and passion, and morning and evening complemented each other.
- Music. If there ever was an area of church life that proves you cannot please all the people all the time, music can have few rivals. When you factor in a tent filled with some 3000 people and a range of ages represented, the job of those tasked with leading worship at an event like New Horizon is not an easy one! This year Jonathan Rea and some members of the New Irish Orchestra led the first half of the week and Andrew Lamberton led with a band. People who wanted to spend the evening singing nothing but the very latest and coolest songs may have been disappointed while Getty fans will have been happy (!); it’s good when the tent is filled with the sound of singing and (in my opinion) this week’s musicians led us well.
- Seminars. The seminar programme got a new name (NH Explore) and offered a huge selection – with around 50 seminars taking place during the week. These covered a range of subjects, from social justice to evangelism and from depression to money. I hosted a three-part leadership track with Marcus Honeysett from Living Leadership: one takeaway from it – leaders who lack joy will be deficient in their leadership.
- Prayer. Pauline leads the Pastoral Support Team whose members are available for people who are seeking prayer and and listening ear. Some come for help to respond to what they have been hearing in the meeting while others come with a range of personal issues. The final two evenings were particularly busy with many people responding to Malcolm Duncan’s messages.
- Pan-evangelical. A guest seminar speaker commented on the breadth of the conference in terms of the evangelical world, noting that some of the speakers who shared a platform here would not find themselves on the same platform on the British mainland. This is not the place to discuss some of the apparent fault lines in the evangelical conference world, but it’s worth noting one of the values of New Horizon.
If you are interested in catching up with some of the teaching from the event, you can find an order form on the New Horizon website.