...

On July 9, 2022, a beautiful Saturday afternoon, 105 saints from all over the world gathered at Castlewellen Castle Christian Conference Centre in Northern Ireland for the sixteenth BRF Conference. It had been four long years since the BRF had met. Covid and restrictions in 2020 and 2021 had made it impossible for the conference to be held.

What a beautiful venue! The castle was built in 1856, and its beautiful, original woodwork can be seen throughout. The castle sits on 1,100 acres, overlooking a beautiful lake with a walking path around it. The grounds also contained a beautiful garden, arboretum, and maze. A short walk to the town of Castlewellan was also possible for necessities and snacks.

Rev. Angus and Mary Stewart and the BRF committee did an amazing job of organizing and keeping the planned events on time. Rev. Stewart’s knowledge of history and dates kept us entertained on the two bus tours.

On Monday we visited Mount Stewart House, a beautiful mansion with a surrounding garden and walking paths. On Wednesday we explored the Dundrum Castle ruins, which were built somewhere around the beginning of the thirteenth century. We also saw a monument of Robert Ross, an Irishman, who reportedly burnt the U.S. White House down in 1814 during the 1812 war. The Irish are quite fond of this; however, Americans, not so much!

Prof. David Engelsma and Prof. Brian Huizinga were the speakers for the conference. What a timely subject was chosen—Union with Christ.

Rev. Stewart had the welcome and opening speech on Saturday, July 9. He spoke on Psalm 56—the Psalm of Union with God. Prof. Huizinga led our worship services on Sunday. His morning worship sermon was “Our Changeless Jesus Christ” (Heb 13:8) and his evening text was John 1:29—“The Lamb of God Come.”

On Monday Prof. Engelsma addressed the group on our Union with Christ. On Tuesday, Prof. Huizinga addressed us in the morning on Union and Election, and Prof. Engelsma addressed us at night on Union with Christ’s Death. Rev. Stewart addressed the group on Wednesday evening on John Calvin on Union with Christ. Prof. Huizinga addressed us on Thursday evening on Union with Christ’s Resurrection. Prof. Engelma spoke on Union with Christ and Marriage on Friday morning and Prof. Huizinga gave the last address on Friday evening with the topic of Union and the Antithesis.

What a wonderful week to hear faithful men of God expound to us the meaning of our union with God in Christ! What assurance we have knowing Christ is in us, and we are in Christ. We are one body with many members, dead in sin, and separated from Christ unless He sends His Spirit into our hearts. All of our salvation flows out of God’s will. Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we are declared righteous. Our old man of sin is crucified with Christ. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

The recordings of the speeches are available at www. britishreformed.org.

The week ended much too soon on Saturday morning July 16.

A special thanks to the saints of the BRF who plan and arrange these conferences. Much time and hard work goes into this.

Saints from Norway, Singapore, Brazil, U.S., Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Australia, and the Philippines attended. What amazing stories we heard from some of them, as they described how the Lord led them to the Reformed faith. We must pray for those who are alone in their Reformed faith in a country that despises Christians.

As this was to be Prof. Engelsma’s last conference, it was a sad parting. He faithfully attended all prior conferences and has many dear friends and saints whom he has grown to love and who love him. It will be very difficult to imagine him not addressing the conference again. We thank him for his faithful and God-honoring speeches. The Lord willing, we welcome Prof. Huizinga and Rev. Ron Hanko as speakers of the next Conference in 2024 to be held in Wales.

Lori Schipper (Grandville, MI PRC)