Rev. Rawson is pastor of the Measbro Dyke Evangelical Church.
Mr. President and delegates to the Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches,
I count it a privilege and a joy to bring you greetings in the Name of Christ Jesus our Lord.
These greetings I bring from the office bearers and members of the Measbro Dyke Evangelical Church in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England.
I little thought, when I first came into contact with the Protestant Reformed Churches, that I would, as at this time, be standing upon the floor of Synod to bring you these fraternal greetings.
It was in 1976 that in the sovereign providence of the Lord I obtained the book Whosoever Will, written by the late Rev. H. Hoeksema. That book, brethren, was sweet to my taste. As a young minister of the gospel, just coming to a knowledge and understanding of the Reformed faith, I knew my heart and soul to be edified and fed.
I immediately wrote the publishers of that book, the RFPA. Through that first contact I began to correspond with my good friend, Prof. Hanko.
Shortly after my first visit to the U.S. in 1985, the church of which I am Pastor in Barnsley went through a period of trouble and unrest. I would have you understand, brethren, that both the Measbro Dyke congregation and I come from a Wesleyan Arminian background. When I began, therefore, to preach and teach the doctrine of grace and the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God in all things, I encountered a good deal of resistance. My denial of the errors of “Common Grace” and “the Free Offer of the Gospel” brought the charge of hyper-Calvinism, and of harshness, against my preaching. Sadly, 25% of the congregation departed over a difficult period of two years. Not only I but also my dear wife and children began to experience the difficulty and loneliness of the way the Lord had appointed for us to walk.
Over the years a goodly number of members and ministers of the Protestant Reformed Churches visited our congregation in Barnsley. We were encouraged and enriched by this communion of the saints.
Some of your ministers who visited us to preach perceived the difficulties which we as a small congregation were experiencing even in financial matters. I take this opportunity from the floor of Synod to thank you for the financial assistance given by your churches to our congregation in Barnsley When I met with my deacons the evening before our departure for Grand Rapids, they asked that, with my greetings, I especially mention this kindness we have received from you.
I might also add that, under the hand of our God in providence, there was a time, but for the encouragement and counsel of some of you who are gathered in Synod here this morning, I would humanly speaking have left the Christian ministry.
We give thanks to God as a church that these past two years have seen peace restored to the congregation. We have been blessed with additions to the church through conversions d those from without, and public confession of some from within. I pray, beloved brethren, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church, will bless your deliberations in the coming days to the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom and the glory of our God. I would leave with you the word of God found in Ephesians 1:16-23: “Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him….”