Mr. Adams is a teacher at Eastside Christian School and a member, with his family, of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
You might think that the biggest news regarding the British Reformed Fellowship’s Family Conference is that it occurred at all. But in spite of rumors of its cancellation, it indeed was held this past July 20th-27th. There were 50 souls in attendance: 12 from Northern Ireland, 15 from Cambridge, England, 18 from the United States, and others from various places in the British Isles.
The theme of the conference was “Assurance of Salvation.” Through a series of six speeches by Professor David Engelsma and Rev. Barry Gritters, the confessional and scriptural truths of this important, comforting, invigorating, but neglected doctrine were presented. The relationships and connections of assurance to faith, election, the Holy Spirit, and a holy life were taught. Doubt, which is not foreign to the believer, was also treated. Both speakers and listeners testified that we came to the conference assured of salvation, but that the measure of our knowledge of our assurance increased to the bolstering of our faith.
In addition to the theme speeches, there were other addresses. Rev. Angus Stewart gave a fascinating biographical sketch of the real Saint Patrick. It turns out that Patrick … but no, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for an article that is forthcoming in the Standard Bearer about him. A local Presbyterian minister, Rev. David Silversides, was invited to speak on the topic of guidance. This speech was also well received.
This was indeed a family conference. There was the pitter-patter, no, the PITTER-PATTER, PITTER-PATTER of eight pairs of little feet running around, with squeals and laughter. The children knew when it was time to be quiet, however. It was a delight to all the adults to have them there. The five teenagers were much involved together during the speeches and the scheduled outings, and, to say no more, in a number of extra-curricular activities as well. The outings included trips to missionary Patrick’s grave and to the Ulster Folk Museum, where much of the earlier life of Ireland could be experienced; a visit to the local seaside town of Newcastle; and, for some, even a hike to the top of the mountains of Mourne. The conference schedule was deliberately designed to leave much time for reading, strolling to the local village, walks around the lake—in short, a true vacation.
If fellowship can be gauged by the amount of conversation, then there was abundant fellowship. After every meal, after every speech, and well into each night, conference members could be seen and heard discussing their various social, political, and particularly spiritual backgrounds and concerns. When one comprehends the struggle that some of the families have in order to raise their children in the truth, particularly where there is a dearth of good Christian schools, and when churches do not see the need to catechize their youth, it is all the more reason for those of us who have these privileges to be thankful to our Father for them.
The BRF also held its biennial meeting during the week. Besides dealing with regular business, the members decided, enthusiastically, to hold another Conference in two years’ time in Cambridge, England. The tentative topic is the “Covenant.” And this brings me to what I consider the biggest news regarding the Conference: the positive hope for the future that was evident. One would initially, perhaps, attribute this to a whistling-in-the-dark, wishful optimism; yet, the members speak of contentment with the Lord’s way in the distressing, disruptive events they have experienced, and they look to Him to bless their labors to grow and rebuild. Truly “…the Son of God …gathers, defends, and preserves to Himself, …a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith.” We are and for ever shall remain, living members thereof. Blessed assurance.