Every two years for the past ten years, the British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) has held a weeklong family conference somewhere in the British Isles. This summer the BRF will hold the sixth such conference in Northern Ireland. The dates of the conference are July 20-27, 2002.
On behalf of the BRF and the Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland, which works closely with the BRF in putting on the conference, this editorial is an invitation to readers of the Standard Bearer, both in North America and all over the world, to attend. The conference was designed especially to bring together those in the British Isles who have a love for or an interest in the Reformed faith. But its outreach has been wider, and the BRF is delighted that this is so. In recent years, many young people have been attending the conferences. On their own testimony, they have enjoyed the conferences greatly. They have also made a significant contribution to the success of the conferences.
The BRF Family Conference is a happy combination of Reformed, biblical teaching; interesting, informative trips and tours in the area; good Christian fellowship; and simple relaxation—a vacation, or “holiday,” as they say in the United Kingdom.
The site this year is Castle-wellan Castle Christian Conference Center in southeastern Northern Ireland. Featuring the magnificent Castlewellan Castle, the scenic conference grounds are situated in a 1300-acre forest park in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains. A lovelier, more commodious location would be hard to find. Five miles away is the Irish Sea at Newcastle, County Down.
Among the activities at Castle-wellan are miles of nature trails for hiking, beautiful gardens, an arboretum with one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the British Isles, an 80-acre lake for fishing and canoeing, the world’s largest hedgerow maze, and an outdoor volleyball court. Nearby is Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, a challenging but possible hike for the occasional mountain climber.
A main purpose of the conference is spiritual knowledge and growth especially through the development of an important biblical truth by Reformed speakers. The theme of this year’s conference is “Assurance of Salvation.” The theme will be developed in six speeches, given either in the morning or in the evening. The topics of the six speeches are the following: “Assurance: God’s Will for All His Children”; “Assurance and Election”; “Assurance and the Holy Spirit”; “Assurance and the Holy Life”; “Assurance and the Believer’s Struggle with Doubt”; “Assurance and Its Benefits.” The speakers will be Rev. Barry Gritters, pastor of the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church, Hudsonville, Michigan and Prof. David Engelsma, professor of theology at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, Grandville, Michigan. In addition, Rev. David Silversides, pastor of Lough-brickland Reformed Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland, will give a lecture.
Lodging will be in the Castle-wellan Castle. For those who prefer to lodge by themselves while attending the conference, Bed and Breakfast accommodations are available close by the conference center.The conference will be of a relaxed nature. There will be plenty of free time for recreation with family and friends. For those who are interested, several trips have been planned. There will be a full-day trip to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum with a stop at the seaside town of Bangor. There will be half-day trips to Newcastle, Slieve Donard, and Tullymore Forest Park.
For information concerning the cost and other details and for reservation forms, interested persons in North America should get in contact with Mr. Bill Oomkes, 6299 Wing Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49512 USA. Telephone: (616) 698-6697. E-mail: email@example.com
Those in the British Isles and elsewhere should get in contact with Mary Stewart (who is very much involved in planning the conference and from whom much of the information in this article was received), 7 Lislunnan Rd., Kells, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland BT42 3NR. Telephone: 01144 28 25 891851. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our heartfelt desire is that God will bless this conference for the promotion of the Reformed faith in the British Isles.
All those who attend the conference should make it a point to visit the Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland, sister church of the Protestant Reformed Churches in North America, on a Lord’s Day. The congregation holds her worship services in Ballymena.