Uppsala – we have arrived!

It’s happening!  Tomorrow we open the doors for registration in Uppsala for the 350+ assembly participants who are descending on this beautiful Swedish City for the 3rd ACT Alliance General Assembly.  I am so excited to see the years of planning unfold and all that we have envisioned for so long actually come to life!  Uppsala – we have arrived!

It was a warm August day in Geneva, in the summer of 2016, when a small team of us at the ACT Secretariat met for our first official ‘assembly planning meeting’.  With more than two years ahead of us to plan the assembly, it felt like we had all the time in the world!  At that stage we didn’t know where the assembly would be or who would be hosting us.  We didn’t know what our theme would be or even how many of us who sat around that table would still be working for ACT in October 2018 (2 of the 6 remain…)!

What we did have though was a vision of what we hoped the assembly would be…and looking back now at the notes from that first meeting, it is heart-warming to see how true to that vision we have remained, through all the twists and turns of the past 27 months of planning.

Rooted in our Christian Identity:  From the very beginning, it was clear that we wanted the assembly to be founded on our Christian identity and celebrating the work that churches and church related agencies can accomplish when working together.  What has eventually become the assembly theme – “Hope in action – putting people first” – indeed has a strong biblical rooting and firm theological basis and helps us reflect on the way that we put our Christian hope and faith into action as an alliance.

A celebration of our work:  At that first meeting, we were clear that this event was to be more than just a meeting place for voting delegates to conduct the assembly business.  We wanted the programme to celebrate the work of the alliance, to be an opportunity for showcasing the different work from around the world with each other, to learn from each other and to encourage each other.  For the participants to include our Forum representatives, Youth Representatives, Advisory Groups and Communities of Practice.  Ultimately to celebrate the added value for our members in being part of the alliance.  As I see the non-business elements of the assembly programme ready to launch – whether it is the Hope in Action Exhibition or the range of topics covered in the member conversations or the regional celebrations during dinner – I am confident that our dream of the assembly being so much more than ‘doing business’, as important as that is, will surely be achieved.

So Uppsala – we have arrived!  From all over the world, from our different churches, our different organisations, our different countries!  We have arrived to celebrate together the Hope we have in Christ put into Action through our work together in ACT Alliance.  Bring it on!