Archive: Easter People sparks renewal within British Methodism

Archive: Easter People sparks renewal within British Methodism

Archive: Easter People sparks renewal within British Methodism

July/August 1999
Good News

Easter People, a dynamic evangelical event in British Methodism, met for their yearly celebration during the week following Easter. The event has grown from 800 in 1988 to about 12,000 attending the “Hopin’ and Dreamin’“ 1999 event in Bournemouth, a city in southern England.

From 7 a.m. to midnight, programs included events for youth of all ages, as well as seminars equipping adults to return to their home churches with more resources for ministry and a deeper love for Christ. The week-long celebration featured many prominent British evangelical speakers, as well as the Rev. Perry Dalton, pastor of Pine Forest United Methodist Church in Pensacola, Florida, who spoke on the need for revival.

Participants selected from a wide variety of programs and even worship styles ranging from “all-age,” “reflective,” “mainstream renewal,” “alternative” or “church for the unchurched” which uses the arts to connect with chose unfamiliar with the church setting.

Dr. Rob Frost, prolific author and national evangelist for the Methodists in the United Kingdom, facilitates the week-long Easter People event that aims to provide as many entry points as possible for Christians to get involved in the work of the church.

This year, participants were given a special opportunity to participate in ministry while attending the conference. An independent evangelical church in Erseke, Albania, requested assistance in serving the needs of over 400 refugees that the church has taken in. In response to this call, the Easter People collected 14 tons of supplies and about £30,000 ($48,000 USD) for the refugees, including money for the Tearfund, which provides water and primary health care for Albanians.

In addition to the supplies, a prayer vigil in the central park was held from 9 p.m. until midnight one evening for Serbian and Albanian Christians. A cross constructed of thousands of candles lit up the night as the Easter People stood silently praying for their brothers and sisters in crisis.

Dr. Frost told the Methodist Recorder, “We needed to react to the situation while we are gathered here in Bournemouth. We would have otherwise faced the allegation of being blinkered Christians, having our eyes shut and our ears closed. Things are happening around the world and if we did not relate to them we could appear to be on our own in our own little enclave, having a happy-clappy time without any reference to what goes on in the world. So, we have made these responses, one practical in sending aid and one spiritual through prayer.”

Frost believes that the turn of the millennium provides one of the best opportunities for sharing the Gospel with others, since it marks the 2,000 anniversary of the birth of Christ. Throughout this year, Frost has toured Great Britain and facilitated a dramatic presentation in various communities based on The Lord’s Prayer. Church members recruit talented dancers, actors, and musicians from their communities to perform in the program, therefore drawing an audience of those who would not be as likely to visit a “church play.”

The “Hopes and Dreams” musical – which features drama, comedy, and dance – explores the hopes and dreams for the new millennium. The musical was held in 36 different venues throughout the United Kingdom with more than 50,000 in attendance. More than 4,000 local townspeople participated as choir members. “Hopes and Dreams” is now a resource that local churches can use within their own communities.

Because of the enthusiastic response to the presentations and conferences, Easter People will take a different shape next year. Bournemouth hotels cannot accommodate such a large number of people, and organizers are having difficulty finding venues for the daily sessions. As a result, the year 2001 conference will split into smaller groups, and several sessions will be held regionally. As the new regional conferences begin, Dr. Frost hopes to raise up new leaders from all generations and genders, as well as from all denominations.

Frost is also the founder of the Share Jesus Mission, a ministry that links teams of men and women up with host churches throughout Great Britain in order to participate in effective and diverse front-line evangelism activities within a community. More than 500 participate in this dynamic ministry in the U.K. each year.