Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention

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It is quite a humbling thought that God in His Providence should have chosen Bangor as the birth–place of the Convention. Our missionary heritage goes back almost fifteen hundred years to 555 AD when St Comgall founded his famous monastery in Bangor. And it was Comgall’s missionary–minded monks who were sent out to introduce Christianity to Western Europe. Thank God for our godly heritage.

Crowds gather at Pickie Pool.
Crowds gather at Pickie Pool.

It is quite a humbling thought that God in His Providence should have chosen Bangor as the birth–place of the Convention.  Our missionary heritage goes back almost fifteen hundred years to 555 AD when St Comgall founded his famous monastery in Bangor. And it was Comgall’s missionary–minded monks who were sent out to introduce Christianity to Western Europe.  Thank God for our godly heritage.

The Early Years

Humanly speaking the Convention was the brain–child of Herbert J Mateer (Herbie to his friends), well–known across the Province for his boundless energy and zeal for missions. In 1936 Mr Mateer proposed that the local Christian Workers’ Union should cancel its annual house–to–house collection for missions, holding instead an annual missionary convention. The idea was well received. Missionary speakers came to Bangor from around the world thereby providing first–hand information on God’s work worldwide. The success of the first Convention in 1937 was amazing.  Financially £300 was received for missions instead of the usual £100. Significantly perhaps the programme included two half–nights of prayer. Maybe we have something to learn from those early days.

Maintaining the Vision

In the goodness of God the overall pattern has remained constant down the years.  Indeed, the Convention has continued to the present day without a break, even through the war years and the years of the ‘Troubles’ in our Province.  Fifteen or sixteen speakers are invited each year reflecting the broad spectrum of world mission.  Mornings are given over to a world prayer focus followed by a Bible reading on a missions related theme with around three hundred present. There are also programmes relevant to children and young people, while the Global Village exhibition gives up to eighty societies an opportunity to participate.  It is noteworthy that in God’s sovereign timing some speakers have come directly from events of great significance: for example, Dr Helen Roseveare following the war in Congo, or Doru Popa just after the fall of Communism in Romania or, again, The Heavenly Man escaping from persecution in China.

Embracing Change and Innovation

Time inevitably brings changes – some glad, some sad – but, dare I say it, none bad!  For the Convention the most evident changes are seen in dress code, worship style and technology. One sad loss are the open air services held for many years at Pickie and the McKee Clock. However, with change comes the opportunity for innovation.  And we have moved with the times in the field of communication, having an excellent website and making very effective use of social media. Bringing Bangor to Belfast has also been a successful innovation as reflected by two memorable events in the Waterfront, and again this year in the Spires Conference Hall.  We are so grateful to God for a Convention congregation that continues to embrace change as we seek to be contemporary in our methods while remaining true to our message.

Looking Back … Looking Forward … Looking Up

Through the years the Convention has been greatly used by God to send young and not so young into His service. Those who ‘go’ need financial support and we give thanks to God for the ongoing generosity of His people in supporting upwards of one hundred and sixty missionary societies year on year. ‘Promoting World Mission’ defines our purpose, helping to bring the good news of the Gospel to a needy world.  The organising committee is an interdenominational group of men and women wholly committed to the task. We pray as Jesus taught His disciples: Let your kingdom come … Let your will be done.  We serve with confidence because The One who calls us is faithful and He will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).  To His Name be the praise as we respond at Worldwide16 in the words of Chisolm’s classic hymn, Great is Your Faithfulness.

From the Archive

Our 80th Anniversary launch night saw us welcome the African Children’s Choir.
2016

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Our 80th Anniversary launch night saw us welcome the African Children’s Choir.

Event
Canon Andrew White “the Bishop of Baghad” spoke about the great work in Iraq.
2012

Saturday 01 September 2012

Canon Andrew White “the Bishop of Baghad” spoke about the great work in Iraq.

Event
We celebrated 75 years of the Convention with our opening night in the Waterfront Hall
2011

Saturday 20 August 2011

We celebrated 75 years of the Convention with our opening night in the Waterfront Hall

Event
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