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  • News

    Alhambra Cinema to run afternoon screenings for Conventioners

    15 February 2019

    Alhambra Cinema

    Keswick’s Convention is partnering with the historic Alhambra Cinema this summer to run afternoon screenings for Conventioners.

    This is the latest move to promote the range of activities on offer in Keswick to Conventioners who attend the annual three-week event.
    Carol Rennie, co-owner of the Alhambra, said “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Keswick Ministries to bring Conventioners to the Alhambra. They might be watching Toy Story 4, but we’d like to think they will also appreciate the heritage cinema experience. We can’t claim to be as old as the Convention, which put its first tent up outside St John’s Church just next to us a full 38 years before we were built, but I imagine Conventioners have been passing through our doors ever since.”

    Details of the screenings were announced at Keswick’s Town Liaison Forum this week. The forum was launched by Keswick Ministries to encourage more two-way communication between the Convention and the town, and to engender a greater level of connection between the town and the Conventioners.

    At the forum, David Sawday, Chief Operating Officer for Keswick Ministries, spoke about the partnership with The Alhambra, saying: “We’re all very positive about this dedicated afternoon at the cinema. We are working hard to ensure the benefits of the Convention flow through to the town, so we are continually exploring ways to encourage a deeper engagement between Conventioners and local businesses.”

    Discussions are taking place for guided walks and outdoor activities to be held each week, which people can sign up for.

    Following the forum, Mr Sawday said: “Last year Keswick Ministries freed up the afternoon schedule of Convention activities – so that Conventioners can spend more time enjoying the town and the local area. We will do the same this summer.”

    Keswick Ministries will continue to work with the Keswick Tourist Association and local traders with the Friends of Keswick and Enjoy Keswick initiatives.

    It was also agreed that Keswick Ministries will distribute programme schedules to businesses around the town, particularly pubs, restaurants and food outlets, so traders are aware of when peak times will be and can co-ordinate their meal offerings around Convention meeting times.

    There are also plans for a dedicated area in the Convention’s Base Camp marque at Rawnsley for local businesses to promote themselves.

    Further details of the 2019 Convention programme were given. In week one, an afternoon theatre performance of The Turbulent Priest by writer James Cary will take place. The Keswick Lectures, which are open to all, will be given by Keith Fox in week two and Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron in week three.

    Town Councillors Jean Murray and Adam Paxon raised questions by residents about litter, noise management and armed police in the town during the convention.

    Bob Johnston, Counter Terror Security Advisor for Cumbria Police, said armed police were deployed as considered necessary by the area commander for West Cumbria. This was usually based on numbers of people rather than the nature of the event and while sometimes armed presence is visible that is not always the case.

    Updates were also given about the planning approval for the refurbishment of the former pencil factory.
    Mr Sawday said the Lake District National Park Development Committee were “unanimous in their support”.

    Members heard that phase one of the rebuild will see the demolition of the warehouse, the provision of toilets on the ground floor of the pencil factory and building the standing for the marquee, ready for the Convention to be on one site in 2019. Further phases will see the full renovation of the pencil factory by 2023.

    The next Town Liaison Forum is set to take place on Tuesday 14 May.

  • News

    Keswick Ministries welcomes LDNP’s vote to support pencil factory revamp

    6 February 2019

    Derwent Project site plan

    Today, the Lake District National Park Development committee unanimously voted to support the planning application for the renovation of the former pencil factory site, and delegated authority to the head of the planning department for approval.

    Keswick Ministries, the owners, are now set to refurbish the site as a new home for the Keswick Convention and a modern conference centre.

    “This is a wonderful milestone in our charity’s 140-year history and for the town of Keswick,” said James Robson, Ministry Director, Keswick Ministries. “The site, which has been derelict for 10 years, will be transformed into a facility that the town and the people of the Lake District can be proud of.”

    The site will bring all Convention activities together in one place. Old warehousing will be cleared to provide space for the Convention’s main marque and the whole area will be sensitively landscaped to improve the amenity value. Meanwhile, the Pencil Factory building will be modernised to provide toilet facilities, accommodation, meeting rooms and a conference centre.

    As well as the Convention, the facility will host Keswick Ministries' teaching and training courses, visiting church, school and local community groups. It is also envisaged that the conference space will be in demand by organisations from around the country. This will attract additional visitors to Keswick outside the main tourist season and create employment opportunities.

                                                   David Sawday video screenshot

    “Our vision is to create an even better Convention experience for supporters on one site with improved facilities, plus a modern venue in this World Heritage Centre that will attract many other visiting groups throughout the year. This project will allow us to strengthen the work we are doing as well as provide a fantastic local facility.”, said James Robson, Ministry Director, Keswick Ministries.

    For more than 100 years, the Keswick Convention has drawn thousands of people from all over the world to the beautiful Lake District to hear leading Bible teaching. Many Conventioners work with young people, the elderly and the disabled and return home refreshed and inspired to serve some of the poorest and underprivileged communities in the world with renewed strength. Helping to drive positive change amongst the people they care for.

    In addition, the Convention and Keswick Ministries operations bring considerable economic benefits to the town and the local area. It is estimated that each summer the thousands for people who attend the Convention bring over £3 million in inward spending to the area. Meanwhile, the production of the Convention costs more than £1m and, wherever possible, contracts are awarded to local suppliers.

    Work will start as soon as final planning permission is granted and it is planned that the first Convention will be held on the site in 2020.

  • News

    We are hiring!

    31 January 2019

    We are hiring

    Fundraising and Marketing Manager

    Hours: Full-time (37 hours a week)                                                                                                    

    Office base: Home-based and at Rawnsley Centre, Main Street, Keswick, CA12 5NP

    We are looking for someone to lead and deliver an integrated marketing and fundraising strategy and project manage its key marketing initiatives and activities. The successful candidate will champion the Keswick Ministries brand and be responsible for using a wide range of Direct Marketing techniques to promote our training and new resources, to grow our supporter base, to retain current donors and recruit new ones, in order to maximise our overall income.

    The role holder will be goal-focused and offer experience in the charity sector, ideally in the Christian charity sector. This person will be creative and entrepreneurial as well as collaborative and excellent at managing relationships with supporters, churches, ministry partners, staff and volunteers.

    The successful candidate will be passionate about encouraging Keswick Ministries' supporters to continue their journey with the ministry and will keep up-to-date with the giving trends in the Christian sector and apply best fundraising and marketing practices.

    How to apply

    • Please send a covering letter and a copy of your CV to:
    • Closing date for applications: March 11th, 2019
    • Interviews will be held: March 26th, 2019

    For the full job description click here.

    PDF logo  Job description

    Main Tent Pano pic 2017

  • News

    Keswick Unconventional’s James Cary releases new book

    25 January 2019

    James Cary - The Sacred Art of Joking

    James Cary, one of the leaders of the Keswick Unconventional programme, releases his new book, “The Sacred Art of Joking.”

    The book is published by SPCK and was released on 17th January in the UK and will be published in the USA this coming March.
    The Sacred Art of Joking is a book about how jokes can go horribly wrong, especially in the realm of religion. Cary explores themes such as ‘The devil may have all the best tunes. But does he have all the best jokes?’ ‘Was Jesus funny? Why does religion have to be so serious? Maybe it doesn’t.’

    Award-winning BBC Comedy writer and stand-up theologian, James Cary explains why Christians should be able to take a joke and how the Bible is ‘way funnier than it first appears’.

    James Cary is a regular contributor to the Keswick Unconventional programme, part of the Keswick Convention where he has performed a ‘Monk’s Tale’, which he also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. He has written comedy for the BBC, ranging from mainstream hits like Miranda and My Family, and BBC Radio 4 shows like Hut 33 and Another Case of Milton Jones. No stranger to controversy, James created Bluestone 42, a sitcom set in bomb disposal unit in Afghanistan.

    “I’m delighted that James is involved in the Keswick Unconventional programme again this year. His extensive experience and proven skills make him a great asset to the team. We’re looking forward to another varied and action-packed arts stream in Week 3 of the Keswick Convention.” Tim Chester, Chairman on the Board of Trustees, Keswick Ministries.

    James will be performing during week 3 of the Keswick Convention from 27 July – 2 August 2019. Entrance to the Keswick Unconventional programme is free and open to everyone. James also has a one-man show called The Sacred Art of Joking, which can be booked by church groups.

    He will be performing the Sacred Art of Joking show on:
    • Fri 25th January 2019 at St Michael’s Church, Dalston, Carlisle – call 01228 710584 for tickets
    • Sun 27th January 2019 Big Burns Supper, Dumfries

    James has contributed to BBC shows like Miranda and Another Case of Milton Jones. In The Sacred Art of Joking, he delves into the Bible and finds that ‘ultimately, the joke’s on us’.

    James hosts a podcast about comedy called Sitcom Geeks and has performed comedy at Spring Harvest, Greenbelt, Edinburgh Fringe and The Brighton Fringe. He has also appeared on Newsnight (BBC2), the Today programme (BBC Radio 4) and various BBC news programmes, often talking about comedy and offence.

    James is a Christian, has a degree in Theology and is a member of the General Synod of the Church of England for Bath & Wells. Having written a column for Third Way magazine for over a decade, as well as stage shows The God Particle and A Monk’s Tale, he now co-hosts a podcast about the Church, the Bible and culture with Barry Cooper (Cooper & Cary Have Words).

    For more details on the Keswick Unconventional programme go to More details of the programme can be found on this site in the run-up to the Convention.

    To find out more about James Cary, go to:

  • News

    Murray Lawrie joins KM team as Facilities Manager

    18 January 2019

    Murray Lawrie

    Keswick Ministries has appointed Murray Lawrie as Facilities Manager. Murray brings a strong track-record of facilities management for Christian centres and 20 years in structural engineering and building projects to the table.

    “I’m delighted that Murray is joining Keswick Ministries. He brings significant experience and expertise to help us make good use of the facilities we have, and, in particular, with the exciting opportunity that the Derwent Project provides.” James Robson, Ministry Director, Keswick Ministries.

    Murray will be managing Keswick Ministries' facilities including their maintenance and letting to a variety of community groups like churches, Parents and Tods, theatre companies and others as well as during the Convention.

    Murray studied at Bell College, Hamilton (now known as the University of the West of
    Scotland) and began working life as an apprentice draughtsman in Motherwell Bridge
    Fabricators on Petro-chemical projects, then Nuclear and defence projects with Babcock,
    Glasgow. A move to Aberdeen saw Murray working on oil & gas projects with Brown & Root, Amec, Kvaerner & Atkins. His strong Christian faith was instrumental in directing him to work in Christian Ministry for the last 15 years. This included several years managing a residential centre in Arbroath.

    “I am excited about this fantastic opportunity to work with Keswick Ministries as it will allow me to use my knowledge of buildings and project management while also being able to express my passion for Christ. I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the work of Keswick Ministries in this way and look forward to seeing the local community increasingly engage with our facilities and the work we do here.”

    Going forward, Murray will also be supervising the day-to-day building work on the Pencil Factory site as the refurbishment work gets underway later in the year. In addition, he will coordinate the use of the Pencil Factory once renovated and work with Keswick Ministries' tenants at the Pencil Museum.

    “It is essential that we maintain our properties in good order. We also want to make them available to other groups as much as possible outside of the Convention, so they benefit local people and the wider Christian community throughout the country. Murray’s expertise will help us do that more effectively so that we maximise the benefit of our properties for everyone.” David Sawday, COO, Keswick Ministries.

    Murray is married to Ruth and has four adult children and a granddaughter. He is very involved in church life and enjoys walking and cycling.
    Keswick Ministries currently has a variety of spaces for hire, this includes the 17 bedrooms at the Skiddaw centre and the three school halls at the Rawnsley Centre.