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Three Christian leaders to address ‘Religion of the heart’


HOW can we know and experience the presence of God today? How can we sustain such an experience so that it transforms our lives, our families and our communities?

Three respected Christian leaders will address these concerns at Aldersgate Convention 2004, with the theme, “Strangely warmed: Religion of the heart”.

This year’s convention, set for May 20-24, will begin at Barker Road Methodist Church and end at Paya Lebar Methodist Church.
Dr Ajith Fernando, National Director of Youth for Christ (YFC) in Sri Lanka, will speak nightly at Barker Road Methodist Church from May 20 to 22, on the topics “Vital Holiness”, “Joyous Assurance” and “Overcoming Weakness”. The talks will begin at 7.45 pm with a brief time of worship and will conclude at 9.15 pm.

On May 21 and 22, during the day, Dr Fernando will join two American clergy, the Rev Dr David Lowes Watson and his wife, the Rev Gayle Turner Watson, in conducting a seminar entitled “Nurturing Religion of the Heart”. It will be held at Sophia Blackmore Hall on the 6th floor of Methodist Centre, and will comprise seven sessions, along with a variety of worship experiences. Seminar registration is $70, including lunch, tea and materials.

On May 24, Paya Lebar Methodist Church will be the venue for a musical and dramatic setting in which Dr Fernando will speak on the topic “Passionate Living”.


Aldersgate Service to feature glimpses of John Wesley’s heartwarming experience

The service will include dramatic glimpses of John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience, arranged by Anglo-Chinese Junior College teacher Geetha Creffield. The Methodist Combined Orchestra and Aldersgate Choir will bring a variety of hymns and contemporary Christian music.

Translation in Mandarin and Tamil will be available for all the events.

Though not an ordained clergy, Dr Fernando is a lay preacher. His mother converted to Christianity when he was young and by the time he was 15 years old he was writing weekly sermons. He continues to write numerous books in Sinhala and English, including his latest, Jesus Driven Ministry. He is also a member of the translation team for the Sinhala Bible produced by the India Bible Society.

He studied at Vidyalankara University of Ceylon, and obtained theological degrees from Asbury Theological Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary in the United States. Following seminary he became the National Director of the Sri Lanka Youth for Christ in 1976, and has held that position ever since. His primary role now is that of teaching, encouraging and mentoring staff, as well as preaching and teaching among the wider body of Youth for Christ.

Both he and his wife, Nelun, are very active in a growing Methodist Sinhala language congregation made up mostly of recent converts.

The Rev Dr David Lowes Watson and the Rev Gayle Turner Watson are both at the forefront of the accountable discipleship movement. The husband-and-wife team has visited Singapore before to teach and promote Covenant Discipleship, a contemporary approach to John Wesley’s class and band meetings.
The Rev Dr Watson first began developing the idea of Covenant Discipleship after observing the upsurge of encounter groups and other pop psychologies in Christian circles. He knew the Wesleyan heritage had something much better to offer, namely the format of the class meetings, bands and select societies. These class meetings became an integral part of the 18th century Methodist revival.

A native of England, the Rev Dr Watson received his education at Oxford University as well as Eden Theological Seminary and Duke University in the US. He developed Covenant Discipleship through the United Methodist Church (UMC) General Board of Discipleship. Has also served as a pastor and seminary professor at Perkins School of Theology and Wesley Theological Seminary.

Currently he is Director of the Office of Pastoral Formation for the Nashville Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church. He has written extensively on Methodist history and theology, including these books, Accountable Discipleship, The Early Methodist Class Meeting, and God Does Not Foreclose.

The Rev Gayle Watson, also a UMC pastor, currently serves a church in the Tennessee Annual Conference of the UMC. She received her education at Birmingham Southern College and the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, with a theology degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School. She has written a study guide for Covenant Discipleship and developed various age-level adaptations of Covenant Discipleship.

Parking at all events is on a first-come-first-served basis. Those planning to attend are advised to car-pool.