GROWING TOGETHER Festival in Eurasia

Each year, the Fund for Mission in Europe supports a number of very diverse projects all over Europe - for instance the Family Festival in Eurasia.

Several men and women aimed to find an approach that would allow families affiliated with The United Methodist Church in Eurasia to be together in study and in leisure, in growing spiritually and having fun, in improving relations and enriching experience, in strengthening family spirit and team work, in enjoying sports and hobbies in a manner that adds on to the healthy way of living regarded through the holistic approach. It had to be profound and fun. It had to be education and celebration. This is how they came up with the festival format for this event. They wanted to create a pattern that could be easily replicated in various regions, districts and conferences of the Eurasia Episcopal Area later, and they chose on the one hand a name that illustrated their thriving for holistic growth, transformation, and development in all areas family and personal life involves. On the other hand, they worked with a «do it together» approach, where all family members are equally welcome to participate. So, the first Family Festival under the brand name GROWING TOGETHER was born and proved to be both successful and inspiring. It took place at Camp Crystal, a picturesque pine-tree woods resort near the Usmanka river, owned by The United Methodist Church in Eurasia. About twenty families from Russia and Kyrgyzstan registered for the festival, and although the daily schedule was very intense, nobody wanted to skip a single moment of the program.

The GROWING TOGETHER Festival was designed to be not just a family project but a Christian family project. Every day of the camp started with a family prayer. The leaders even developed a special pamphlet on family prayer so that those Christians, who knew perfectly well how to pray by themselves but never tried this spiritual discipline to strengthen a family, found it simple to follow this practice. And it payed off dramatically, for nothing can better unite a family and help it to be both a team and a nurturing space for love to grow than a regular family prayer. Of course, spiritual inspiration was also provided during the daily evening worship services and a special candlelit evening of praise and prayer.

The educational part of the festival included seminars and practical trainings on one of the most burning questions of family life – how to reach harmony in life and relations. Rooted in a holistic approach, the lecturers focused on this subject from different angles but always from a Christian point of view: family health, healthy habits, a first aid training workshop, issues of psychological health (roots of harmony and discord in the relations between husband and wife as well as parents and children; reasons of misunderstanding between the generations; conflicts; falling into addictive behavior). During the practical sessions, the lecturers gave everyone an opportunity to test themselves and helped them to find their way to harmonious relations and self-fulfillment.

It is hard to imagine a family festival and holistic health without doing sports, and indeed, half of the festival time was devoted to family sports and games. There was a well-balanced and fun program starting with morning exercises, including afternoon family outdoor games and relay races, and ending with the All-Eurasia UMC Soccer Cup championship. The special program for the children kept them busy during the day, while their parents were taking seminar classes, and when it was time for the Big Family Game, families reunited to compete in various sports and actions as family teams.

During their leisure time, families could participate in workshops (sushi-cooking, visual arts, crafts, dance therapy), swim in the river or take a walk into the woods. And of course, there was also a touch of romance added to the event by dating cabins with a romantic interior, where married couples could meet at night to celebrate their marriage in quality time together, having tea and desserts. Another addition was the «Love Dare program», based on the Fireproof movie, and the «Path of Love» for the couples to walk together to reignite their feelings and to live through new instances of love, tenderness, and gratitude to the spouse.

Truly, it was a joyful celebration of family time together.

Source: UMC Eurasia
Date: December 13, 2016