Banner of Truth Minister’s Conference
BANNER OF TRUTH MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE, LEICESTER, APRIL 2002
Some 370 men, from a variety of countries, listened to a fascinating account of the progress of this annual gathering, which began in a modest way
by Frank. J. Orna-Ornstein
The Rev. Iain H. Murray gave the opening address, "Forty Years on – 1962-2002", at this year’s Leicester Ministers’ Conference. Mr. Murray outlined some ‘lessons of forty years’: the fallibility of our hearts; the need to depend on God; the error of being dazzled by human abilities; the importance of evangelical unity, which, in fact, does not depend on organisation; the need to recover powerful witness; the priority of evangelism (one of our areas of failure); and our tendency to feel discouraged as we look back to ‘better days’, not realising that God is working today, ‘making and preparing souls for heaven’.
Some 370 men, from a variety of countries, listened to a fascinating account of the progress of this annual gathering, which began in a modest way, half a lifetime ago. The writer of this report has been attending since 1978, and can testify to the value of the Conference which is sometimes known as "the Banner of Truth Conference".
Prof. Edward Donnelly gave three profound addresses on "Paul, Pastoral Theologian", drawing out aspects of the following epistles: Romans (the Gospel as the basis of unity); 1 Corinthians (‘living in the not-yet’); and Colossians (the antidote to wrong teaching is the presentation of Christ in His glory). At the conclusion of the third address the deeply affected audience remained silently in their seats; presently they responded to an unscheduled call from the chairman to engage in prayer on the spot.
The Rev. Derek Prime brought a timely reminder of the necessity of "Preaching the Cross." Christians and non-Christians need to hear its message, over and over gain, because it is the essence of the Gospel.
The Rev. Dr. John R. de Witt, from the USA, one of the Associate Editors of The Banner of Truth, spoke helpfully on "Sermon Preparation" (including some thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of consecutive expository preaching); while the Rev. Cecil Siriwardene, from Sri Lanka but now a pastor in Los Angeles, reminded us that "Pastoral Care" involves taking heed to one’s own spiritual welfare as well as to one’s ministerial calling.
Biographical talks always give one something to think about. The Rev. Iain Murray addressed us on "Robert Bruce and Conscience"; on another occasion his subject was "Gideon Ousley, Portrait of an Evangelist". Bruce (c.1555-1631) lived through times that were difficult for faithful men in Scotland, preaching, praying and maintaining a good conscience. Ousley
(1762-1839) laboured indefatigably in Ireland. He and his colleagues were Arminian in theory, but, in practice, believed absolutely in depending upon God.
This Conference was proof that Reformed preachers can speak briefly, if asked to do so. The Rev. Stuart Olyott gave us 12 minutes on "The Public Reading of Scripture"; while the Rev Ian Densham spoke with equal succinctness on Philip Doddridge. In fact on the second afternoon of the Conference Mr. Densham led some of us on a fascinating lightning visit to Doddridge’s chapel at Northampton, where we were welcomed and guided by the present minister, the Rev. Malcolm Deacon, a considerable authority on ‘the good Doctor’.
A session of reports from various countries revealed the extent to which the Lord’s work is going forward, despite severe trials, around the world.
Stuart Olyott rounded off the Conference with a heart-warming sermon on 1 Peter 1:1 -12, a passage that underlines the sheer wonder of being a Christian.
As usual, the early morning prayer meetings were well attended. As far as the writer is aware, a lone parish minister and a curate of the established Church, two bishops of the Free Church of England, and one bishop from an eastern European denomination made up the Episcopalians at the Conference. What a pity!
FRANK. J. ORNA-ORNSTEIN, Brighton.
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