The church weekend, or “the church sleepover” as my children call it, has become a much looked forward to date in our family calendar.

This September, after many happy years spent at White Park Bay Youth hostel, our church weekend planning committee decided to try a new venue at Kilbroney Christian Conference Centre. Nestled in the heart of mountains and forest in Rostrevor, the centre is superbly located in picturesque surroundings.

After arriving and receiving a friendly welcome talk from staff at the centre, we headed into the forest for a nightline activity organised by the staff. A few bumped heads and plenty of laughs later, we headed back into the centre for an epic quiz that has been honed over the years by Ruth Sutherland. We finished off the evening with devotions.

On Saturday, after various levels of success with sleep, we enjoyed two talks by Rev David McCullough about caring for our covenant youth. David served as our interim moderator and we really enjoyed getting to spend time with him again. The wonderful weather we enjoyed in September, allowed us to hold our afternoon discussion groups at the picnic tables outside. The centre has a great playpark on site which meant the children could play while we chatted.

In the free time, some enjoyed a walk along the river into Rostrevor, and some braved a hike up Slieve Martin. However, there was plenty to entertain everyone within the grounds of the centre.

On Saturday evening we enjoyed a very special time of fellowship singing Psalms around a campfire prepared by the centre staff, and toasting marshmallows. 

On Sabbath, we enjoyed testimonies from Edith Hyndman and Gareth Halliday. This was followed by our church service, in which Rev David Sutherland gave an overview of the theme of covenant through the Bible.

Our weekend finished with lunch for all. The weekend was fully catered by the centre. This was new for us and freed everyone up to enjoy a more relaxing weekend. We all agreed the food was great. We left with full bellies and fuller hearts.

The 2023 Newtownards RP Church Weekend was such a success, we’ve rebooked the Kilbroney Centre for 2024. We always come away shattered, but it’s worth it for the bonding that flows from the weekend, among all ages, and the amazing memories for our covenant youth.

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