John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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14th–21st May 1966:
43rd General Conference of Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland


The notes scribbled in the spaces for
Thursday 19, Friday 20, Saturday 21 and NOTES do not relate to this week; see Wednesday 22nd June 1966.

“The Pentecostal Festival of the year!”—so announced the blurb on the leaflet pack for the 43rd General Conference of Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland.

What started out in 1924 as a general conference of Assemblies of God ministers—see “Incredible”: autobiography of John Nelson Parr: Chapter 7—had by now grown into a festival of both general meetings where thousands of people gathered to praise and worship God, and ones catering for special interests (e.g. radio ministry, Sunday School teaching), attended by anyone who cared to. There were still, to be sure, private meetings for ministers, where doctrinal, policy and business decisions were made. Each year the conference had a chosen theme, and in 1966 this was “God working with them” (Mark 16:20). The 43rd conference was held at Butlin’s holiday camp, Clacton, from Saturday 14th May to Saturday 21st May 1966, and coaches were organised by the local Assemblies (or groups of local Assemblies in co-operation — cf. Saturday 21st May 1966, where Pastor Holland of Lytham appeared to be one organising things).

My first mention of the Conference is on Sunday 23rd January 1966. See also: Saturday 14th May 1966, Sunday 15th May 1966, Thursday 19th May 1966 and Saturday 21st May 1966.

It became quite a talking point at the Conference that every time Chris Woodhead appeared it was with a different girl; there seemed to be an endless stream of them. Chris mentioned one of them in his letter, postmarked 29 October 1967, as “that Welsh bird that I went with at the conference at Clacton”; he couldn’t remember her name, though. Another was called Christine, who came from Hemel Hempstead.

Audrey and I went a number of times to the holiday-camp chapel, where there was usually gathered a handful of people in prayer—praying silently, out loud, or murmuring. On one occasion, a woman spoke up in tremulous, sing-song tones: “The Lord is searching, searching…”—I can’t remember precisely for what, but perhaps for a people who would be wholly yielded and devoted to him, for only then would his loving and saving purposes be fulfilled on earth. And once, there was a man, who kept uttering a kind of voiceless purr:
We found this somewhat perplexing. We didn’t want to dismiss it as being “of the flesh”—but neither was it listed in the Bible as one of the manifestations or gifts of the Spirit!

We were familiar with photo-booths—with automats that took four or five passport-type photographs printed on a strip—but here at Butlin’s there was a similar-looking one where you could make your own 45 r.p.m. record. We were disappointed with the result, though. We concluded it with a rendering, in croaky, silly voices, of the Sunday School chorus
Don’t have a face like a coffee-pot;
Coffee-pots are long and thin.
Always have a face like a teapot:
Boys and girls to Jesus win.
But when the record played back in the booth, all we could hear was a series of quacking sounds.

Conference folder

Folder cover

GOD working
with them
Contents of the folder

The Pentecostal Festival of the year! 43rd GENERAL CONFERENCE
  • Property Trust
  • The Overseas Work of Assemblies of God
  • Radio Council
  • Overseas Mission Council
  • Home Missions
  • “It’s Revivaltime”
  • Bible College

Me holding toy spider by lily pond and fountain

Audrey holding toy spider by lily pond and fountain

Me on roundabout in children’s playground

Me atop the climbing frame in children’s playground

Audrey sitting on a nearby fence

Audrey sitting by the perimeter fence

Audrey in the chalet area

Me in the chalet area

Audrey in swimsuit emerging from outdoor pool

My Dad sunbathing

From left:
Peter Gooding with his arm round Joan Phillips;
Audrey and me displaying the toy spider;
Ken, Audrey’s brother
Impression of the week

Was bit disappointed (but not much)
in Conference—but
learned quite a lot,
received instruction and
was blessed. Praise
the Lord!
This note may have been written at the same time as the one relating to 22nd June 1966. I suppose I was expecting a week of continual and unbroken glory and blessing, such as in retrospect I perceived the week at Scarborough Camp[1] to have been (or the meetings there, at any rate), or Preston Convention on Good Friday.
[1] The week at Scarborough Camp is related in the following stories: Holiday in Scarborough—Day One; Holiday in Scarborough—Day Two; Holiday in Scarborough—Day Three; Holiday in Scarborough—Day Four; Holiday in Scarborough—Day Five; Holiday in Scarborough—Day Six; Holiday in Scarborough—Day Seven; Holiday in Scarborough—Day Eight.
Perhaps what contributed to the dampening of my spirits was the thought that I would have to face the consequences of a letter I wrote to Mr. Magnin, the headmaster at Fleetwood Grammar School. For in the paint of one of the stalls in the boys’ toilet, which were made of tongue-and-groove wood planks, I had scratched a small graffito. It wasn’t even a smart or witty graffito, or entertainingly salacious; it was simply intended to read: “For males, not for females.” I had used the symbols for male and female, ♂ and ♀ — but I’d got them the wrong way round — “For ♀, not for ♂” — so the message was, if anybody had bothered to interpret it: “For females, not for males.” The deed I’d done weighed on my mind, but I had managed for days or weeks to live with the burden of it, for that was more bearable than summoning the courage to confess it. But now I was at the Assemblies of God Conference I felt that it was blocking the blessing of God and the moving of his Spirit, so I wrote Mr. Magnin a letter telling what I’d done. Chris recalls that the letter was posted in Clacton-on-Sea.

In all probability, it was on my first day back at school, on Monday 23rd May 1966, that I was called to Mr. Magnin’s study.

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