Thursday, 29 August 2013

ICRC 29th August

With help from Flybe I arrived last evening at the Eighth meeting of the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC), at the Glamorgan Conference Centre, University of South Wales,
Treforest, Pontypridd, near Cardiff. This is a modern, beautiful campus, set into the hills. Along with me from the Free Church are Iain D Campbell, who travelled with me all the way from Lewis, Bob Akroyd and David Miller. The hosting denomination is the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales (EPCEW). We attended the opening service of the conference at one of their congregations Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Cardiff last evening. The service was conducted by the minister there Rev Dr Peter Naylor who is also the clerk to the conference. The sermon was by Rev Iain Hamilton, Cambridge Presbyterian Church, another EPCEW congregation. Great emphasis on the triumph of Christ and how we as his people share in a triumphant procession with him. Others are in the procession too, but not sharing this victory; rather they are in chains as defeated enemies, Satan and his forces. Stirring stuff!

This is the congregation taking their seats just before the service began. One or two faces may be familiar!

Today (Thursday) we spent most of the morning confirming who were present representing the member churches, around eighty delegates in all, and also observers from other churches. In addition, importantly, a welcome was given to the wives of delegates, although sadly for one delegate (actually a few others too!) Donna was missing!

After lunch we spend time giving preliminary considerations to a report from the Review Committee set up at the last meeting in 2009 in New Zealand. The Committee was charged with looking at the structure of the conference and how it might be improved in line with the growth in the number of members churches since the ICRC was set up in 1985 in Edinburgh. This is a long document running to some 50 pages, so the conference will need to give more than one session to it. Hopefully it will be adopted near enough as it is as, having been on the committee, I know that a great deal of time and care was spent on it, and it should help to make the ICRC more efficient as a conference of churches holding to the Reformed tradition.

In the afternoon we saw a presentation given by Refo500, an  international platform for knowledge, expertise, ideas, products and events, specializing in the 500 year legacy of the Reformation. Worldwide, more than 120 partners have joined Refo500 and the number of partners is still growing. Partners collaborate in order to offer a program and to tell the story of the Reformation. Refo500 partners include Protestant and Catholic organizations, churches, universities, museums, cities, publishers, and others.

Rev Dr Robert Letham
After our break for our evening meal we had the first lecture of the conference from Rev Dr Robert Letham, a lecturer in Systematic Theology at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology, formerly Evangelical Theological College of Wales. Previously he was Senior Minister of Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church Wilmington Delaware for 17 years.

 Dr Letham's subject was "The Necessity of Preaching", giving us some important reminders of what preaching is and why we preach. His lecture was an excellent, scholarly, insightful, stimulating, and thought-provoking presentation. Tomorrow we will have four "worskshops" (discussion groups) on his lecture so that we can get into more of the detail and application of the lecture.

Rev Daniel Kithongo
The final item on the evening's agenda was a presentation from Rev Daniel Kithongo from the Africa Evangelical Church, in Kenya, one of the churches applying for membership. In his presentation he referred to the persecution of some of their congregations by militant Muslims, who in some case will drive a car which contains a bomb to a church service, park it close to the church and then leave the scene. It appears that they are just arriving for worship like others but the car explodes just as the worshippers are arriving for the service. Try and imagine what it would be like if our attendance at church had to face this! Please pray for them as they seek to be true to the Lord against such intimidation and violence.

This was a very good day. The Lord was honoured, fellowship was good, much was learned and quite a few new relationships established.


  1. Thank you for providing a commentary on the ICRC meeting. It was the only one I have found so far on Google. If anyone else is blogging, would it be possible to list their sites too?

    In Christ,

  2. I have just learnt James how to send these blogs today the 19th Of Sept. How challenging to hear of these persecuted Churches. Thanks a gain James I'm pleased I have learnt to follow you!