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Banner Conference at Collaroy, Sydney, March 4-7, 2014

Category Articles
Date March 20, 2014

There was a fine spirit among those who gathered and it showed itself from the outset. Allan Blanch reminded the gathering at the outset, a primary purpose of the conference is to build relationships and that needs days together. We had people this week from various parts of this vast land, including Tasmania and Western Australia. There was also a happy mix of age groups and nationalities. We have looked for more of the younger age group and there were a few more this year, including one Eritrean, converted in Australia and presently studying for the gospel ministry. Reformers’ Book Shop, Sydney, provided a large supply of Banner books and it was good to see how many were taken up. I had asked the shop for a good supply of Archibald Brown’s sermons (the two paperback volumes, not long published).1, 2 I had to plead somewhat with our gathering to get Brown taken up but, thankfully, with success!

I suppose the oldest member of the conference was Donald Howard, author of the Banner titles on Grief [Christians Grieve Too]3 and on Burial or Cremation?4 He continues to be a stimulus to us all. His book, Preach or Perish, published in Australia, ought to be better known than it is.

The conference began with a sermon on ‘Christ Risen’, and it was an appropriate beginning. The three evening sessions were taken by Murray Capill, Principal of Reformed Theological College, Geelong, on the subject of ‘Application in Preaching’. Although the conference is no longer for pastors only, or male only, the whole gathering valued these addresses on a very relevant need in preaching. We had not heard Murray Capill at the conference since he last spoke on Richard Baxter, ten years ago, and all were glad to see and hear him again.

Speaking at the conference for the first time, but much at home in our midst, was Simon Manchester, who serves a North Sydney parish, and reaches around 100,000 by radio every Sunday morning at 8 am (FM). In two addresses he spoke on the necessity of godliness in the church, and on ‘Steadiness for the Long Term’. His, and other addresses, were especially valued by men serving in small congregations, and his practical observations from his own ministry since the 1980s were relevant for us all.

Simon Manchester’s subjects dove-tailed with an address from Joel Radford, pastor of Drummoyne Baptist Church, Sydney, on ‘Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome’. With the hope of many years ministry yet before him, the conference were much encouraged to hear Dr Radford, and the reminder he gave us that faithfulness, not success, will come first in God’s judgment. He also directed us to valuable reading material by Kent Hughes and Jeremiah Burroughs (Divine Art of Christian Contentment).

In terms of lighting-up the meaning of Scripture, the exposition by Noel Weeks of the Book of Judges will long be remembered. Not only did we see that book, and its characters, in a new way, but principles for the understanding of history came in by the way. Peter Barnes, who chaired that session, underlined the value of the two titles by Dr Weeks published by the Trust, Gateway to the Old Testament,5 and The Sufficiency of Scripture.6 While the latter may be of special use to students, the former is suited to all Christians.

Variety helps in a conference and there were two sessions of a different nature this year. In one of them I sought to give a bird’s eye view of Puritan history from Tyndale to 1662, with a view to deepening interest in evangelical history. In the other Stephen Turner spoke under the general title of ‘India Today’. Since the early 1990s, Stephen has combined his long pastorate at North Shore Baptist Church, Auckland, with an annual visit to South India where, with the co-operation of churches, he gathers young Tamil men and potential future leaders, and spends extended time with them going over the text of books by such authors as Packer, Stott, Lloyd-Jones, and Piper (the latter’s We Are Not Professionals has been particularly popular). From this, long-standing relationships have been built up with these young men and pastors.

An unplanned addition to the conference, on the afternoon after Stephen spoke, was the showing of the film, The Story of Amy Carmichael and the Dohnavur Fellowship. The large number who wanted to see this film, and the comments which followed, showed how much it was appreciated. For further reading, the biography of Carmichael, A Chance to Die, by Elisabeth Elliott was especially recommended. ‘Love is a great thing, a great good indeed,’ says Carmichael, ‘which alone makes light all that is burdensome, and bears with even mind all that is uneven.’ The work at Dohnavur was, and is, a powerful testimony to the love of Christ.

What a great blessing is the communion of Christians! It encircles the world and is in union with heaven. Charles Wesley’s hymn (363 in Christian Hymns) has that fine verse:

One family we dwell in Him,
One church, above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.

Notes

    • cover image for the book 'Christians Grieve Too'
      price $2.50 $2.25
      Avg. Rating
      Rated 4.50 out of 5

      Description

      There was a fine spirit among those who gathered and it showed itself from the outset. Allan Blanch reminded the gathering at the outset, a primary purpose of the conference is to build relationships and that needs days together. We had people this week from various parts of this vast land, including Tasmania and Western […]

    • Burial or Cremation

      Burial or Cremation

      Does it Matter?

      by Donald Howard


      price $2.50 $2.25
      Avg. Rating
      Rated 5.00 out of 5

      Description

      There was a fine spirit among those who gathered and it showed itself from the outset. Allan Blanch reminded the gathering at the outset, a primary purpose of the conference is to build relationships and that needs days together. We had people this week from various parts of this vast land, including Tasmania and Western […]

    • The Face of Jesus Christ

      The Face of Jesus Christ

      Sermons on the Person and Work of Our Lord

      by Archibald G. Brown


      price $16.00 $14.40

      Description

      There was a fine spirit among those who gathered and it showed itself from the outset. Allan Blanch reminded the gathering at the outset, a primary purpose of the conference is to build relationships and that needs days together. We had people this week from various parts of this vast land, including Tasmania and Western […]

    • This God Our God

      Creator, Judge, Saviour

      by Archibald G. Brown


      price From: $13.50

      Description

      There was a fine spirit among those who gathered and it showed itself from the outset. Allan Blanch reminded the gathering at the outset, a primary purpose of the conference is to build relationships and that needs days together. We had people this week from various parts of this vast land, including Tasmania and Western […]

    • Gateway To The Old Testament
      price $12.00 $10.80

      Description

      There was a fine spirit among those who gathered and it showed itself from the outset. Allan Blanch reminded the gathering at the outset, a primary purpose of the conference is to build relationships and that needs days together. We had people this week from various parts of this vast land, including Tasmania and Western […]


    • price $20.00 $18.00

      Description

      There was a fine spirit among those who gathered and it showed itself from the outset. Allan Blanch reminded the gathering at the outset, a primary purpose of the conference is to build relationships and that needs days together. We had people this week from various parts of this vast land, including Tasmania and Western […]

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