Philip Rawson is the pastor of Measbro Dyke Evangelical Church at Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England.
(This is the substance of a speech delivered by Rev. Rawson while in Kalamazoo, MI at a Missionary Conference sponsored by that congregation.)
I believe The Holy Catholic Church, The Communion of Saints. In Barnsley, England that church of Jesus Christ is to be found.
First of all, let me tell you something about my home town. Barnsley is a town of some 250,000 souls. It is almost in the center of the British Isles, and in the midst of the largest coalfield in England.
Barnsley is an old town going back to the days when the mighty Roman Empire’s borders extended to the British Isles. Around Barnsley have been found evidences of Roman occupation, for example, the site of an altar dedicated to the god Mars by the Emperor Augustus. The town’s oldest building is the “Monk Brethren Priory,” founded in 1154, falling into ruin during the Reformation struggle at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538.
That seems by the way to have been the extent of the Reformation in the Barnsley area.
The history of the Measbro Dyke Church goes back over one hundred years. At first a few people met for worship in a building belonging to a brick-works. In 1897 the present church building was erected.
The past one hundred years have witnessed the widespread departure from the historic Biblical truth in England. There is no mainline denomination that is not well down the road of apostasy. Maximum coverage is given by the media to clergymen (especially Anglican bishops) who vie with one another to see who can be the most outrageous in their denial of Biblical doctrine.
It is against this background that the church of Measbro Dyke, Barnsley separated from the Wesleyan Reform Church, which was very ecumenically involved. In 1975 we were reconstituted as an Evangelical Church. As such we were just a small part of what was happening throughout England in the 1900’s-1970’s. It was in 1972 that the writer of this article became the first pastor of the Measbro Dyke Church. Since 1980 I have been fully maintained by the congregation.
Neither the church nor its Pastor have their roots in the Reformed faith. Our roots are those of Wesleyan Arminianism.
By God’s grace the Pastor was brought to a knowledge and love of the Reformed faith. Not that this has been easy, for even today we have bitter disappointments and opposition to the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace. Much still needs to be done if we are to become a truly Reformed church.
Over these past eight years the writer of this article has received much encouragement and help from correspondence with ministers in the Protestant Reformed Churches, and the literature produced by the R.F.P.A.
You young people have a very rich heritage for which you must surely give thanks to God. That rich heritage in the witness and literature of your churches is being used of God to encourage and keep alive the testimony to the Reformed faith in many places of the earth.
Some of God’s faithful servants are in very lonely and isolated situations here in England. Part of my ministry is to make known the literature of the R.F.P.A. in England. Over these past months I have received several requests for the literature and now correspond with several who truly love the Reformed truth. One man writes concerning the literature of the R.F.P.A.: “It is a ministry very much to my taste”; and another: “I continue to be impressed and encouraged by the testimony of the Protestant Reformed Churches and the clarity of its literature.”
It was for our congregation a joy and a privilege to welcome into our midst Rev. D. Engelsma and Prof. H. Hanko on their recent visit to the British Isles, a report of which has already appeared in The Standard Bearer. Their warm and faithful ministry did much to instruct and encourage us in the truth of God. Indeed over several years a number of people from the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and the Protestant Reformed Fellowship (now church) of New Zealand have visited and worshipped with us. In the Spring of 1985 it was my great privilege to pay a brief visit to Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. I saw at first hand the churches and seminary and schools, and met so many brethren and sisters in our Lord Jesus. You have much for which to be thankful. I pray God will keep you steadfast in this truth, that He will continue to use you to His glory in the great work to which He has called you in His kingdom.