|Founder||Rev T D Harford-Battersby, Robert Wilson|
|Type||Registered as a British charity and a private company, limited by guarantee with no share capital|
|Focus||To promote Bible teaching at an annual Convention in Keswick and on other occasions with the aim of encouraging holy and Biblical life styles.|
(Convention Centre, Skiddaw St)|
|John Risbridger (Chairman)
Jonathan Lamb (CEO)
Simon Overend (Ops Manager)
Steve Adam (Hon Treasurer)
|£ 1,148,264 (2014)|
|650 (during Convention weeks)|
|Slogan||Bringing the Word alive|
The Keswick Convention began in 1875 as a focal point for the Higher Life movement in the United Kingdom. It was founded by an Anglican, Canon T. D. Harford-Battersby, and a Quaker, Robert Wilson. They held the first Keswick Convention in a tent on the lawn of St John's vicarage, Keswick, beginning with a prayer meeting on the evening of Monday, 28 June. During the conference—which continued till Friday morning—over 400 people attended uniting under the banner of "All One in Christ Jesus"—which is still the convention's watchword.
Robert Pearsall Smith, a Quaker turned Plymouth Brethren probably influenced the Convention's use of the American term "convention", rather than the British "conference". During the same time period, D. L. Moody—the New England evangelist—also employed the same term to denote a special Christian gathering.
Among the Keswick Convention's early notable speakers were the Anglicans J. W. Webb-Peploe, Evan Henry Hopkins, E. W. Moore, William Haslam, W. Hay, M. H. Aitken and Handley Moule, as well as the South-African reformed pastor Andrew Murray and a Baptist, Frederick Brotherton Meyer. The founder of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor, also spoke; and in response Amy Carmichael decided to dedicate her life to missions.
In 1903 at the convention, Barclay Fowell Buxton and Paget Wilkes founded the Japan Evangelistic Band. The convention also influenced John George Govan, who later founded The Faith Mission in Scotland; and the highly influential post-war Scripture Union worker, E. J. H. Nash, valued the Keswick Convention and considered R. A. Torrey his theological mentor.
It was Stephen Olford who introduced Billy Graham to the Keswick message at a Keswick Convention in 1946. Graham wrote in his autobiography, Just As I Am, that this teaching came to him as a second blessing.
At the 1965 convention, the Rev. John Stott, Rector of All Souls, Langham Place, gave the week's Bible readings on Paul's epistle to the Romans, chapters 5 to 8. His exposition of chapter 6, in particular concerning "death to sin", is now regarded as a key watershed in recent Keswick teaching, departing from the approach taken to this passage in earlier years. Price and Randall state that "more than thirty years on the so called traditional Keswick stance on Romans 6 would now hardly ever be heard from the Keswick platform".
In 1969 a second week was added to the programme, this taking the form of a "Holiday Convention" giving more free time for visitors to enjoy the local area. In 1975 the centenary celebrations were held, with the highlight being an address by Billy Graham before some 15,000 people gathered at the town's Crow Park on the shores of Derwentwater.
A new building, Keswick Convention Centre was opened on 12 July 1987, on the site in Skiddaw Street. The rear of the roof becomes a point of support for the tent erected for each year's convention event. The following year during the second convention week, the tent was destroyed in a storm on the Monday night. Two days later a replacement tent had been acquired and erected and the programme was able to be resumed as normal.
In order to extend the range of activities undertaken, Rawnsley Hall, formerly part of the Keswick School, was purchased by the Convention Trust in 1997. This is located about 10 minutes walk from the Convention Centre and now forms the focal point for all the older children's and youth work.
In January 2000, a position statement was issued by the Convention Council to address the question as to how Keswick see its role in the 21st century. The following specific goals were set out:
- The lordship of Christ in personal and corporate living
- Life transformation through the fullness of the Holy Spirit
- Evangelism and mission in the British Isles and world-wide
- Discipleship and training of people of all ages
- Demonstration of evangelical unity, in particular sustaining Keswick's breadth of involvement with all evangelical "tribes".
In 2001 in response to a demand for additional capacity notably for families and younger people a third week was added.
Keswick Ministries was established in 2003 with the aim of taking the Bible teaching ministry at the Convention to a wider audience both nationally and internationally throughout the year using the many and varied forms of media available.
Keswick Convention is run by Keswick Ministries, the operational name for Keswick Convention Trust. The charity exists to promote bible teaching at the annual convention with the aim of encouraging holy and biblical life styles. Trustees are drawn from a number of Christian organisations and denominations but on a personal basis only not as sponsored or in delegated roles. The Trust employs a full-time operations manager and a small number of permanent staff, based at the Convention Centre. During the convention event itself a heavy reliance is placed on recruiting volunteers to join the various support teams.
During 2013 the Council decided to create a new post of Chief Executive Officer who would be responsible for the development of the Convention, the wider work of Keswick Ministries, the use of the two sites and the strategic partnerships. Jonathan Lamb, a previous chairman of the Council, was subsequently appointed as the first CEO and minister-at-large, commencing 5 May 2014.
Convention weeks' format
In the 21st century, the annual convention is still centred in a large purpose-built tent erected over a concrete showground with audio-visual facilities to aid praise and teaching. The venue is entered via the Convention Centre: a narrow two-storey block containing offices, a small shop etc., which fronts the site on Skiddaw Street. Additionally, events (including the main youth activities) take place around Keswick chiefly in the convention's other venue, its own Rawnsley Centre, but also in local churches and meeting halls. The aggregate attendance over the three weeks in 2010 was 12,000.
The convention comprises three consecutive weeks in July and finally ending on the first Friday in August. Each week has its own presenters, speakers and musicians, but to a common theme. The weekly pattern starts with the opening meeting on Saturday evening and concludes with the Communion and celebration service on Friday evening. A major feature of each week is the morning Bible readings running from Monday to Friday. These consist of a series of expositions, usually from one book of the Bible, given by the principal guest speaker for that week. Each week covers a different part of the Bible. Other invited speakers cover related topics in the evening meetings, seminars and book cafe events.
The event does not charge any admission or registration fee but relies on voluntary donations to meet expenditure. Visitors to the convention find their own accommodation in the town, either in hotels, B&Bs, self-catering properties, or on one of a number of caravan or camping sites nearby. The campsite at Crosthwaite is run as a trading subsidiary of the trust.
Media and publications
All meetings in the main tent are recorded on video and audio formats. A compilation CD of the year's praise and worship is released each Autumn. Talks from the Keswick Convention are broadcast weekly on a Christian radio station, Trans World Radio, as part of the Keswick Programme hosted by Trevor Newman.
The convention publishes, in December, a Year Book in paperback format giving a selection of the teaching from that year's events. Other books are also published throughout the year featuring Keswick speakers and topics.
BBC Radio 4 has broadcast from the Convention for its Sunday Worship programme on a number of occasions in recent years.
Keswick Youth and Children
Keswick Youth is a parallel program within the main event, offering a range of Bible teaching and activities for those aged 11–18 years. There is also a children's programme during each week of the Convention.
Root 66 is a part of Keswick Ministries delivering all year round training for youth and children's ministry to churches at the local level throughout the United Kingdom.
The Keswick Convention hosts two shorter "Bible Weeks" (Spring and Autumn) and other events throughout the year. Related to, but not directly managed by the convention, there are up to 20 "Keswick-style" events which take place over the year in various towns and cities in the United Kingdom. The convention also has close links with New Word Alive which takes place in Spring in North Wales.
The Derwent Project
In May 2015, it was reported that the site of Keswick’s former pencil factory would become the new base for the Convention. Keswick Ministries announced that it had completed a deal to buy the site from local businessman Keith Graham, of Pelican Ventures Ltd. The site is adjacent to the existing Rawnsley site and Simon Overend, operations manager, said that the idea of a single integrated site is very attractive and will allow the Convention to grow even further and give flexibility over both sites. The move has been generally welcomed by townsfolk and Allerdale borough council. Keswick town councillor Tony Lywood commented that he very much welcomed the sale to Keswick Ministries, which is an idea that he had promoted for a long time, as it would solve so many issues for both Keswick and the Keswick Convention. The pencil museum will still remain on the site, which was vacated by the Cumberland Pencil Co in 2008 when it relocated to a new facility in Workington. Previously, planners had wanted to see the pencil factory premises retained for industrial use.
The subsequent launch of “The Derwent Project” was one of the high spots over the three weeks of the 2015 Convention. The project aims to raise £5 million over the next three years. Most of the funds needed relate to the costs of acquiring the new site, demolishing the derelict buildings, improving access on foot and by car, and landscaping the combined sites to make them ready for an enlarged and integrated summer Convention in 2017. There are also plans to improve facilities on the site so that new activities can be developed for other times of the year. Jonathan Lamb, CEO, added that there are currently no immediate plans to dispose of the Skiddaw Street site at which the main meetings are currently held since this site will be needed to sustain the Convention’s operations for the next year or two. However, in the future, he recognised that the site might be developed for alternative purposes compatible with the locality.
Convention themes and Bible reading speakers
From 1978 the annual ministry book published each December has taken the title of the convention theme for that year (although only since 1991 has the convention itself been given a specific theme in the pre-publicity). In addition to the main speakers listed below, each week has up to 16 other speakers covering seminars, evening celebrations and afternoon events. A full list of all speakers for the years 1875 to 1996 is given in Maurice Rowlandson's book.
|Year||Theme||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3|
|1978||The Gospel, The Spirit, The Church||John Stott||Dick Lucas|
|1979||The Lord is King||Alec Motyer||Eric Alexander|
|1980||The People and the King||Donald English||Bp John B.Taylor|
|1981||Purity and Power||Dick Lucas||Alan Flavelle|
|1982||Walking with the King||Alec Motyer||Philip Hacking|
|1983||Living the Light||Richard France||David Jackman|
|1984||God's Very Own People||Donald English||Stuart Briscoe|
|1985||Giving God the Glory||Eric Alexander||Michael Baughen|
|1986||Rebuilding The Foundations||Dick Lucas||Keith Weston|
|1987||New Beginnings, Old Paths||Raymond Brown||David Jackman|
|1988||Real People - Real Faith||Donald English||Stuart Briscoe|
|1989||Servants of the King||Philip Hacking||Chuck Smith|
|1990||Looking To Jesus||Michael Baughen||Charles Price|
|1991||The Kingdom, Power and the Glory||R.T.Kendall||Roy Clements|
|1992||The Cross and the Crown||Derick Bingham||Raymond Brown|
|1993||Dangerous Faith||Donald English||Alistair Begg|
|1994||The Whole Family of God||Philip Hacking||Jim Graham|
|1995||The Light of His Coming||Alec Motyer||Roy Clements|
|1996||Clean Hands||Michael Wilcock||Stuart Briscoe|
|1997||A Voice in the Wilderness||Michael Baughen||Charles Price|
|1998||Truth on Fire||Chris Wright||Alistair Begg|
|1999||Deep Impact||Don Carson||Nigel Lee|
|2000||One Lord, One Church, One Task||John Stott||Jonathan Lamb|
|2001||A Different Drumbeat||Michael Baughen||Steve Gaukroger||Stuart Briscoe|
|2002||Learning Together as God's Royal Family||Bruce Milne||Liam Goligher||Steve Brady|
|2003||From Base Camp To Summit||Joseph Stowell||Charles Price||Vaughan Roberts|
|2004||Out of Control?||Alistair Begg||Jonathan Lamb||Derek Tidball|
|2005||The Glory of the Gospel||Sinclair Ferguson||Steve Gaukroger||Dominic Smart|
|2006||The Church in the Power of the Spirit||Chris Wright||Ajith Fernando||Vaughan Roberts|
|2007||Unshackled ? Living in Outrageous Grace||Alec Motyer||Steve Brady||Ian Coffey|
|2008||Creation, Chaos & Christ||David Cook||Liam Goligher||Charles Price|
|2009||Faith that Works||Dale Ralph Davies||Jonathan Lamb||Vaughan Roberts|
|2010||Christ-centred Renewal||Don Carson||Paul Mallard||Alistair Begg|
|2011||Word to the World||Ajith Fernando||Chris Wright||Peter Maiden|
|2012||Going the Distance||Simon Manchester||Steve Brady||Jeremy McQuoid|
|2013||The Transforming Trinity||Charles Price||John Lennox||Steve Gaukroger|
|2014||Really? Searching for reality in a confusing world||Vaughan Roberts||Jonathan Lamb||Chris Sinkinson|
|2015||The Whole of Life for Christ||John Risbridger||Paul Mallard||Liam Goligher|
|2016*||Power to change||Simon Manchester||Steve Brady||David Jackman|
(* as planned)
List of chairmen
|1875–1882||Canon T. Dundas Harford-Battersby|
|1883–1889||Henry Francis Bowker|
|1901||Albert Head / General Hatt-Noble / The Rev Francis Paynter (shared)|
|1902||Albert Head / Capt F.L. Tottenham (shared)|
|1918–1920||Canon John Battersby-Harford|
|1925–1929||The Rev John Stuart Holden|
|1936–1939||The Rev William H. Aldis|
|1942–1943||The Rev E.L. Langston (held in London churches)|
|1945||The Rev E.L. Langston (held in Westminster Chapel)|
|1946–1947||The Rev William H. Aldis|
|1952–1969||The Rev Alfred Thomas (Tim) Houghton|
|1970–1974||The Rev John A. Caiger|
|1975||Canon A.T. Houghton (acting chairman)|
|1976–1984||Canon Alan S. Neech|
|1985–1993||The Rev Philip H. Hacking|
|1994–1996||The Rev Keith A.A. Weston|
- Harford-Battersby, T. D. Memoirs of the Keswick Convention, 1890.
- Hopkins, E. H. The Story of Keswick, London, 1892.
- Harford, Charles F. (ed.) The Keswick Convention; its Message, its Method and its Men, London, 1907. (available as an ebook, https://archive.org/stream/keswickconvent00unknuoft#page/n0/mode/2up)
- Pierson, A. T. The Keswick Movement , New York.
- Sloan, Walter B. These Sixty Years : The story of the Keswick Convention, Pickering & Inglis, London & Edinburgh, 1935
- Barabas, Steven So Great Salvation, London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1952—a friendly overview of half a century of Keswick teaching.
- Pollock, J.C. The Keswick Story, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1964 (The Authorised History of the Keswick Convention)
- Williams, Derek The Spirit of Keswick, Keswick Convention Trust, Harrow, Middlesex, 1988 (36pp booklet)
- Rowlandson, M. L. Life at the Keswick Convention, OM Publishing, Carlisle, Cumbria, 1997. ISBN 978-1-85078-248-3
- Drumond, Lewis, "The Canvas Cathedral", Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2005.
- Price, Charles & Randall, Ian, Transforming Keswick, OM Publishing, Carlisle, Cumbria, 2000. ISBN 978-1-85078-350-3
- Audio-visual material on Keswick theology by Andrew David Naselli, whose Ph.D. dissertation is entitled "Keswick Theology: A Historical and Theological Survey and Analysis of the Doctrine of Sanctification in the Early Keswick Movement, 1875–1920"
- Rev William Haslam - of particular interest is the following forum topic William Haslam and the Keswick Movement
- The Exchanged Life. Is it possible to consistently enjoy an abundant, victorious Christian life?
- Charles G. Trumbull, former editor of the Sunday School Times and one of the founders of America's Keswick: http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Jehovah/The-Life-That-Wins.html (This was an address delivered by Dr. Trumbull in 1911 before the National Convention of the Presbyterian Brotherhood of America meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. Later, The Life That Wins was published as a pamphlet by The Sunday School Times. The message of this article is Keswick 'early' teaching.)
- "News John Risbridger takes over as Keswick Convention Chairman". Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2014, Keswick Convention Trust, 12 May 2015
- Whitall Smith, Hannah (2013). The God Of All Comfort. Barbour Publishing. p. 1. ISBN 9781620297636. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
- Pollock, J. C. (1964). The Keswick Story—The Authorised History of the Keswick Convention. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
- Price, Charles & Randall, Ian, Transforming Keswick, page 244, OM Publishing, Carlisle, Cumbria, 2000. ISBN 978-1-85078-350-3
- "Keswick Ministries appoints Jonathan Lamb as CEO and minister-at-large". 21 March 2014.
- "Keswick Youth official site".
- "Convention takes over derelict pencil mill site". Cumberland & Westmorland Herald (Penrith, Cumbria). 22 May 2015.
- "£5m plans for former Keswick Pencil Factory site unveiled" (News & Star). Cumbrian Newspapers Ltd, Carlisle, Cumbria. 20 July 2015.
- Rowlandson, M. L. Life at the Keswick Convention, OM Publishing, Carlisle, Cumbria, 1997. ISBN 978-1-85078-248-3