It’s the end of an era as Keswick Convention has been held for the final time at Skiddaw Street –as it will move to Keswick’s former Pencil Factory site next year.
The momentous occasion was marked by thousands of Conventioners singing an acapella version of a well-known hymn (And Can it Be) as the final song on the final evening of this year’s event.
“It was a special moment as thousands of Christians joined together in song one final time at Skiddaw Street. The hymn was published by Charles Wesley in 1738 but the words are still as true today as they were then,” said David Sawday, Chief Operating Officer for Keswick Ministries.
The rendition was led by the musician Olly Knight and his band, from Canterbury, who led sung worship in the main tent for the whole of Week Three (July 27 – August 2).
Thousands of Christians from around the UK and across the world attended the annual three-week Convention, including around 2,300 youngsters between the ages of three up 18, who attended thriving children and youth programmes.
The latest Convention saw some of the former Pencil Factory building used for some of the children’s groups. This proved a huge success say organisers.
Pencil factory tours were also held for around 1,000 Conventioners over the three weeks to give people an opportunity to look at the building and hear about the revamp plans.
On the final day of the Convention, Copeland MP Trudy Harrison had a guided tour around the Pencil Factory building and heard plans for next year’s event, which will be see the main marquee housed at the site.
Mr Sawday said: “We were delighted to welcome Mrs Harrison and show her around the building before major work begins. It was a great opportunity to share with her about what the Convention is and what the next steps are in its future.”
This year, a host of Keswick’s businesses including the Alhambra Cinema, Derwent Pencil Museum and Newland’s Adventure Centre partnered with Keswick Ministries to hold events during the Convention.
Weekly showings of The Secret Life of Pets 2 were held at the newly revamped cinema, while a drawing workshop and a fire etching session took place at the pencil museum and Conventioners took part in a variety of outdoor activities at an adventure centre.
The Friends of Keswick initiative continued again this year with around 80 businesses taking part. Conventioners were encouraged to take part in the scheme and have their loyalty cards stamped at ten different participating businesses.
The afternoon programme for visitors was freed up to enjoy the town. There was still a busy morning and evening programme.
Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, spoke at one of the one-one Keswick Lecture on the theme of a mucky business.
He said: “Christianity is counter-culture — because we are not our own gods,” Receiving rapturous applause he asked Christians to “get involved in politics…take it seriously, be engaged, pray for MPs. The Bible is not passive, it is active.”
Other speakers included Dai Hankey, who spoke passionately about the Gospel’s response to modern slavery. He said the Church was taking the lead on the issue across the world.
Week Three also featured the popular Keswick Unconventional track which focuses on faith through the arts. This included Kaori Homma who led a fire-etching workshop and artist Ally Gordon who led a drawing workshop.
Keswick Ministries was pleased to use numerous community hubs – St John’s Church, Keswick Methodist Church and Crosthwaite Parish Room – during the Convention.
Conventioners were encouraged to park at Keswick rugby ground car park which worked well.
This year saw the introduction of a dedicated residents’ line to report any issues. These were logged, monitored and dealt with.