The West Coast experience started on Friday evening 22 June 2018, when all the Apostles and Bishops gathered at the home of retired Shepherd Dennis Robertson and his family in Sybrand Park, Cape Town, for a welcome reception braai (barbeque). Here District Apostle J Kriel welcomed all the participants to the Apostles and Bishops Conference lasting until Thursday, 28 June 2018.
What is the West Coast experience? In the months leading up to the Apostles and Bishops Conference in Saldanha, situated on the West Coast of the Western Cape, the Apostle Thompson, who is responsible for the Saldanha area, said that he wants the brothers to have “the West Coast experience”. When asked what he meant by the West Coast experience he replied: “Well, the West Coast experience is something very unique which I experienced over the time I’ve been here. The people in the West Coast are extremely hospitable, they are very down to earth, humble people, and, I find it’s their joy to give you joy. It’s just so beautiful when one comes here and you experience their hearts, their openness, their hospitality and I just thought our brothers would come and experience that unique characteristic trait of the people in the West Coast. So, in essence that is what I meant; the West Coast experience is really just giving joy and creating something very unique”.
These words were experienced, the minute the group arrived at Saxonsea congregation for the Sunday morning divine service that was conducted by District Apostle Kriel. Outside the church, brothers heartily greeted those who made their way through the gates and inside the hall a warm and receptive atmosphere added to the sanctity of the preparatory moments before the start of the service.
After the service when the meeting group arrived at Saldanha, the Young People of the area were on hand to heartily receive the brothers at the meeting venue. After a quick check-in, the group had to leave for lunch in Langebaan where a unique West Coast experience unfolded. Lunch at an open-air restaurant on the beach! An extensive array of the freshest seafood and traditional South African dishes were served in a laid-back atmosphere, making for an enjoyable afternoon ahead of a meeting schedule that would last for several days. During the meeting days, at meal times and free time, the bonds of fellowship were strengthened. Spontaneous singing further harnessed the group.
In between the formal activities the avid runners in the group made sure they got in their exercise runs at the crack of dawn and late afternoon to retain their fitness levels. Elsewhere, in the lounge area of the conference venue, a few notes on the piano added a soothing touch to relax the minds that were engaged in all-day meetings to grow the Church. Not even the pouring rain could dampen the spirits that were infused by the unfolding experience at the West Coast.
“Absolutely Awesome! Thank you! A New Apostolic West Coast experience spiritually and naturally! A warm feeling! One cannot express the West Coast experience in words! It was outstanding! I’m grateful! The people jovial, they are loving, free-spirited! The brotherhood among my brothers, where I felt totally at home, and I felt strengthened through the common purpose of what we need to achieve! For me this will always be one of the highlights, of who I am and who I want to become!”
The above comments on the departure of some attendees from the annual conference bring further expression to the meaning of “the West Coast experience”.