A conference that started life as a little idea between friends is fast growing into a musical Mecca for evangelical churches.

Organisers say TWIST (The Word In Song Together) has taken everyone by surprise.

Philip Percival, director of EMU Music, remembers his original planning discussion with Cat Reimer, then coordinator of Youthworks Holiday Camps.

“Cat suggested we run a simple music camp — and three years later it’s grown to become the most important event on the Australian evangelical music calendar,” he says.

Cat and Philip joined forces with Jodie McNeill (Youthworks youth ministry trainer) and Edwina Soh to create the TWIST Conference, a joint venture of Anglican Youthworks and EMU Music.

The growth of the conference has caused exciting problems.

“In our first year”, Edwina reflects, “we filled Blue Gum Lodge at Springwood with 150 people.

“Last year we grew to nearly 400, filling the whole Youthworks Port Hacking conference site.”

Continued growth means moving this year’s conference to a new location.

“To solve the problem, we’ve moved to Trinity Grammar School,” Cat explains.

“We will miss the residential nature, but we simply need more seats!” she says.

This year’s keynote speaker is Bryson Smith, minister at Dubbo Presbyterian, and lyricist of well-loved songs such as Consider Christ and Nothing Can I boast In.

Mr McNeil says one of conference’s greatest strengths is the ministry training focus.

“It is great to join together to think theologically about the place of music in the gathering of God’s people,” he says.

“Not only can people attend practical workshops to improve their song leading or their playing, but they can also be trained in how to use music in youth or children’s ministry, and how to correctly understand the Bible’s teaching on church and worship.”

A highlight of the conference will be the Saturday night live recording of the new EMU Music album.

Full details can be found at the TWIST website or by phoning 02 9692 9944 or 1800 688 874.

This article originally appeared in www.sydneyanglicans.net.

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