The North of Ireland Keswick Convention : an intensive evaluation of its impact on Protestantism in the North of Ireland since 1914
There can be no doubt that the Keswick Convention in Cumbria, England has had an enormous impact on the lives of many Christians and churches worldwide since its foundation in 1875. This thesis traces its history, albeit it briefly until 1914 and the evolution of its Teaching until 2012. The North of Ireland Keswick Convention, known locally from 1917 as ‘The Portstewart Convention’and from 2005 as ‘Keswick at Portstewart’, was carefully modelled on the Keswick Convention in Cumbria. Its original leaders invested heavily in property and have left a legacy without which the current Convention could not exist. Both Conventions were focused, through the sequence of Keswick Teaching, to encourage the promotion of Scriptural and practical holiness. Ever since the North of Ireland Keswick was established, most of its Speakers, also preached at the Cumbrian Keswick and the general format of Keswick was adopted. These facts created connectivity between both gatherings. The Keswick Convention and the North of Ireland Keswick Convention were both established in particular historical contexts and both seemed to be God’s provision for His church at rather difficult times. The thesis attempts to explain the theological emphasises which inspired the Keswick Movement. It also provides biographical details of the founders and the way in which God prepared them before they became the immediate catalysts for both Conventions. The long story of the North of Ireland Keswick Convention is explained and an analysis is given of its struggles and challenges as its leadership sought to cope with an ever changing church scene. Not only did they cope, but they also developed the Convention’s ministry and this is explained in the course of this thesis The main focus of the thesis is an evaluation of the impact made by the North of Ireland Keswick Convention upon Protestantism in the North of Ireland. The contribution made has been significant through the annual Convention itself, through local Conventions and through a number of ancillary ministries. Many people have been called into what is called “full time” Christian service through the ministry of the Convention. This greatly enhanced the impact of the Convention locally and worldwide. The North of Ireland Keswick Convention has been rejuvenated since 2005. Not only was its name changed, but a change of mindset also occurred. In 2013 the Convention is a faithful contemporary expression of the Keswick ideal. For a few years, the North of Ireland Keswick Convention became a Bible Week and followed a thematic approach to its ministry. In 2011 the Convention Committee reverted to the Keswick sequence of teaching although not in any slavish manner. Every organisation has to adapt itself to the context and culture in which it exists and the North of Ireland Keswick Convention has with varying degrees of success followed this dictum. The thesis follows the course of its development through times of growth, consolidation, decline and renewed growth throughout its 100 years.
- Theology