1989 has been hailed as a year of revolution. Across Eastern Europe, regimes began to fall, seen in the spectacular opening of the Berlin Wall.
In the digital world, the first proposal for the World Wide Web was written, whilst the first permanent internet connection arrived in Australia.
And closer to home, Sydney University moved from three terms per academic year to two semesters.
One consequence of this was a change in the Evangelical Union’s major annual conference. For a long time the EU had hosted a house party in the May holidays – known throughout the 1980s as MayCon. But with the end of the May break, a new name was needed: thus the equally as creatively named AnCon (Annual Conference) was born.
At first, AnCon looked much the same as MayCon. The 1980s conference programs addressed a mix of important Christian life issues, typically with the aid of one or two guest speakers. Then a major change came with the second AnCon; the EU invited the leader of the then newly formed EU staff team, Robert Forsyth, to teach on an area of significant Christian doctrine. The first topic in 1990 was the doctrine of ‘Justification by Faith’.
The result was a winning combination. By inviting the staff team leader to take responsibility for the teaching, AnCon was able to provide teaching to the students by someone who knew them. For the student body the teaching could be both directly practical and pastoral to their situation. At the same time, the focus on systematic theology provided generations of students the opportunity to think deeply on the essentials of the Christian faith. Students could come away from AnCon with a renewed confidence in the God they encountered in the Bible. And with this confidence came the basis for a lifetime of following Jesus anywhere in the world.
The 1990 iteration continues to substantially shape AnCon today. There have been a few tweaks over the years. In general AnCon has grown over the years (169 in 1990 to 634 in 2018), with an increase in the number of international students, postgraduates, and students exploring Christianity being welcomed at AnCon. The last ten years have also seen an explicit focus on the needs and opportunities for Christians to serve the less reached and the less resourced around the world.
And this year, as AnCon turns 30, we return theologically to where AnCon began: Justification.
All in all, we have much to celebrate from three decades worth of Annual Conferences. With a keen awareness and a deep gratitude for how God has worked in the lives of thousands of students, we have much to be thankful for. And we’d love to celebrate with you, the supporters of the EU who have enabled AnCon and so many other EU ministries over the last 30 years. Please join us for the 30thAnnual Conference celebration on the Wednesday night of AnCon:
AnCon 30: Graduates & Supporters Night
Wednesday 31 July
Merroo Christian Centre, 182 Mill Rd Kurrajong
Session begins 7:30pm, concludes at 9pm, and is followed by supper