Around 80 ladies from corps across the London South East division, including 9 from our own corps, gathered at the Tudor Park hotel in Bearsted for the annual Liberate weekend (writes Sue Willard). It was a change of venue, owing to the refurbishment of Sunbury Court, allowing us to enjoy the luxury of a swimming pool and jacuzzi, and adding to the specialness of the weekend.
This year s theme was Truth or Dare, and throughout the weekend we were encouraged to think about who we are (the truth part) and how we can be the person God created us to be, living life in all its fullness.
Friday evening began with an opportunity to catch up with old friends over dinner, and make some new ones, after which we were introduced to the main speakers of the weekend, Majors Gwen Cox and Wendy Knott. These two ladies proved to be a funny and inspirational double act through their teaching, having been close friends for many years! Lt. Col. Sandra Moran (our new Divisional Director for Women’s Ministries) also introduced herself as this was her first Liberate weekend.
Saturday started with an excellent breakfast. We had two talks during the morning, challenging us to consider the masks that we have acquired over the years which may cover up the â€œrealâ€ us, the person God created us to be. We looked at the people who have influenced us (for good or bad) and made us into what we are today. We looked at two stories from the Bible: the parable of the Loaves and Fishes, and the story of the rich young ruler (Mark ch.10). Major Gwen Cox really brought each story to life for us through her excellent monologues. The message? Miracles can only happen when we dare to step out.
During the afternoon there was time to relax and take time out, or to participate in creative workshops: craft, dance, elocution and gospel singing. These were great fun and encouraged us to use our gifts and talents in new ways.
The evening was entitled Serenades and Stories. We heard the powerful testimony (and singing) of Susie Flashman Jarvis, a counsellor with a troubled past, who has just written her autobiography. We took part in several quizzes and earned points â€“and cupcakes â€“ for our tables! We also had an opportunity to donate bras for Africa.
Sunday morning saw the final session of teaching, entitled No More Masks. We looked at the story of Zaccheus (Luke 19 v 1-10) and were challenged again. Do we dare to say â€œyes!â€? Do we dare to risk what others might say? Do we dare to be that person God created us to be? We were left with plenty to think about.
The session was followed by worship, which included items from the previous day s workshops: a group presentation of Corinthians 13; a creative dance to the song â€œGreat is the Lordâ€; and two gospel songs, â€œMajestyâ€ and â€œYou are the Lightâ€. These were enjoyed by those of us who took part, and well received by those watching.
Many families joined us for Sunday lunch, it being Mothering Sunday, and the weekend concluded with a real sense of fellowship. We look forward to next year s Liberate!