Experience and Expertise in Teaching 'Christianly': Reaching Out to Serve Others
5 – 8 May, 2016 (Ascension Weekend)
At that year`s conference we were guests of the Seminario Alfragide, a new and spacious theological school, just 10 km from Lisbon airport. With 180 conference participants, this was by far the largest conference in the history of EurECA. Among the conference participants from 21 European and some non-European countries, like Australia and USA, were about 100 Portuguese teachers.
For the third time, the conference was held in workshop format, which has been very well received by conference participants. There were 24 workshops held altogether, with topics ranging from: Student Assessment to Teaching History in a Postmodern Era; from topics specifically for teachers of Christian schools to topics that are a concern of all educators. This included how to prepare students for a world of religious diversity; or how Gender Mainstreaming is impacting on our schools and what we can do about it. It was clear to see how engaged the participants were by observing the intense discussion continuing into coffee breaks.
Worship times were led by the worship team of a local church, to which some of our Portuguese members belong. Not only did this church and other friends and relatives of our Portuguese members help us with worship, but also many of them helped with the translation of the workshop sessions. They also helped to organize transport from and to the airport, to prepare for the coffee breaks and many other organizational details. We are very grateful to all our friends in Portugal for their invaluable assistance.
Like every year, one part of the conference was the Prayer for the Nations. As we had so many nations represented, we prayed on Friday and on Saturday evening. Even though the presentations often focused mainly on the prayer needs for the different countries, one could clearly detect from all that was said, that the Lord is at work and many children and students are being blessed through the faithful witness of those who work as Christians in education.
One of the few things outwith our control at the conference was the weather, but the participants’ mood was not affected by it. During our excursions on Saturday afternoon everyone got drenched, but all were chatting away happily and making new friends while sitting in the buses instead of walking about outside.
Graham Coyle, our keynote speaker from the UK, invited us in his humorous and engaging way to see the connection between Ascension/Pentecost and our daily teaching. He explained how our relationship with the Holy Spirit determines the quality of our teaching as well as the quality of our relationships in the classroom. Our calling is to bring heaven to earth and we need heavenly power to do this. We are imperfect people in an imperfect world, loving a perfect God.
All too soon, we had to be on our way homewards; but all will testify to feeling refreshed and challenged by our time of renewed fellowship and friendship together.