The GOfest annual missions event is heading north this year to Capernwray Hall near Lancaster on Saturday 8th June.
The event, run by a partnership of mission agencies including OMF, explores and celebrates what God is doing worldwide, helping individuals and churches discover how they can play their part in God’s global purposes.
Derek Burnside has been principal of the Bible school at Capernwray Hall since 2017. The independent evangelical college welcomes students from around the world to study God’s word through two, six or nine-month courses.
OMF’s Reuben Grace chatted to Derek to find out more about Capernwray and why they’re so excited to be hosting GOfest this year.
Q: For those who may not be familiar with Capernwray, what’s the story behind the Bible School?
A: Capernwray Hall is a 19th century country house (think Downton Abbey) nestling in the rolling hills of north Lancashire. It was bought in 1946 by a young British couple Major Ian and Mrs Joan Thomas. It was a considerable step of faith to scrape together their savings to buy it as the hall was in some disrepair. But Ian had been given a burden for the youth of post-war Germany and their need of the gospel. In 1947 the Thomases opened Capernwray’s freshly painted doors to a small group of young German guests, and through the Bible teaching they received during that holiday, many gave their lives to Jesus. Demand quickly grew for a Bible school programme to disciple and strengthen the growing numbers of new believers. And for the last 71 years Bible-based holiday programmes and Bible schools have run at Capernwray, influencing thousands of lives from around the world for Christ and his kingdom. The 2018 holiday programme welcomed over 2200 guests, and the current Bible School has 160 residential students from 20 different countries.
Q: And Capernwray’s influence has gone beyond the UK?
A: Capernwray has been the launch-pad for 24 similar ministries around the world, which collectively go under the title ’Torchbearers International’. The name was coined by those early German guests, who left Capernwray declaring themselves ‘Fackelträger’ – torchbearers, carrying the light of Christ back home.
Q: How did you get involved?
A: For over 30 years I was part of Belmont Chapel in Exeter, a large, city-centre evangelical fellowship. Through one of my colleagues there I made a connection with Capernwray, and for about the last 20 years was a regular guest lecturer at both their Bible School and holidays. When the former principal was nearing retirement I was asked to consider taking on the role. I’ve been in post since September 2017.
Q: Can you tell me more about GOfest and what excites you about hosting it this year?
A: GOfest is a growing movement of churches and mission agencies partnering together to share God’s heart for the nations and inspire global vision in the UK Church. An annual missions event gives focus to that vision of ‘whole life, whole Church, whole world’: whole-life disciples leading the whole Church to be involved in God’s mission across the whole world. From its beginnings as a weekend festival at Bulstrode [the old WEC headquarters] it’s now a day-event touring a different region of the UK each year, basing itself each time in a Bible college. This year it’s North West England’s turn, and Capernwray are delighted to be hosting, on Saturday 8th June! One thing that especially excites us is that GOfest isn’t just an event. It’s about building relationships with local churches before and after an event to serve and share in God’s mission together. That sort of partnership with the local church is very much on our hearts too, so we’re thrilled to be part of this.
Q: Who is GOfest 2019 for?
A: Anyone who wants to explore and celebrate what God is doing worldwide, and discover more about how they can play their part. That could be an individual or family seeking inspiration for God’s next steps for them, or a church group looking for ideas as they continue inspiring their congregation to partnership in world mission. It could be students working through how and where God plans to use their training and availability, or the early-retired looking for a new challenge. We’re praying it will be a day of inspiration, encouragement and challenge for everyone who comes.
Q: What will happen on the day itself?
A: Two sessions from keynote speaker Jonathan Lamb will top and tail the day. As well as being an excellent Bible teacher Jonathan has extensive experience in motivating and mobilising for mission through his work with UCCF, IFES, the Langham Partnership and Keswick Ministries. He’s also pastored a local church for several years, so knows that end of the challenge well too. There’ll be an excellent seminar programme including John Baxter-Brown, CEO of Global Connections, on ‘Developing your church’s vision’ and Molly Wall, co-researcher for Operation World, on ‘Praying for the World’. On top of all that there’ll be a great bookstall, a Q&A session with the speakers, the ‘GOconnect’ exhibition with numerous missions agencies to hand, and an epic BBQ to enjoy in the beautiful Capernwray grounds.
Booking for GOfest:
GOfest at Capernwray on 8 June promises to be a fantastic day.
Adult tickets are £12, children (5-18) and full-time students £5. Tickets for the BBQ must be purchased prior to the event.
Find out more about GOfest and book your place now.
Discover more about Capernwray Hall at capernwray.org