Ministry

Banner of Truth Conference 2019

Stephen was one of 17 RP ministers who attended the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference, held in Stafford from Monday-Thursday this week. The theme of the conference was ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit’.

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Rev. Edward Donnelly (retired minister of Trinity RPCI and Principal of Reformed Theological College when Stephen trained there) was attending the conference for the 50th time, and gave two addresses on the theme ‘The Spirit of Life’:

One particular highlight was hearing Lindsay Brown speaking about Mission. The first of his two talks was particularly encouraging as it highlighted what God was doing in many countries around the world:

It was also encouraging to hear global updates from men ministering in different countries around the world - some who have faced physical persecution - and to be able to pray for them in their work.

Videos of the rest of the talks are available here, and a list of previous recordings, dating back to 1962, can be found here. The video below is of the 300 men present singing Psalm 46:

The theme for next year’s conference will be ‘Communion with God’. One of the speakers will be Robert McCollum (one of Stephen’s best men, and pastor of Newtownards RPC). Robert spoke twice at this year’s Banner Youth Conference, which was held last weekend. You can watch his talks below:

Ministers' Conference 2018

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From Monday-Wednesday this week, Stephen attended the annual RP ministers' conference. The speaker this year was Kenneth Stewart, minister of our Glasgow congregation, who gave four very helpful addresses on the theme 'Trouble in the Church'. 

During the conference there were a number of prayer times and three other talks: an opening sermon from Andy Hambleton (Crumlin Evangelical Presbyterian Church), a lecture on preaching from Mark Goudy (Macosquin Presbyterian Church), and a closing sermon from Andrew Kerr (Moderator of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland and minister of Knockbracken RPC - where Stephen did an internship before coming to Stranraer).

As usual, it was a great few days, not just of teaching, but also of catching up with fellow ministers.

Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference

At the end of April, Stephen attended the Banner of Truth Ministers' conference in England. It's a great opportunity to meet fellow ministers from the UK and around the world, and be encouraged by talks on the subject of ministry.

Breakfast with brothers from Chile, Albania and Larne!

Breakfast with brothers from Chile, Albania and Larne!

The conference gave Stephen the opportunity to meet Simon Arscott, the minister of All Nations IPC (Ilford) where one of our members, Gareth, is attending while he's working in London.

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It was also a chance to catch up with fellow RP ministers from Ireland who had made the trip over. Warren Peel (Trinity RPC) was one of this year's main speakers.

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Videos of the talks are available here.

Ministers' Conference

Last week, Stephen joined 41 other ministers from Ireland and Scotland at the annual RP Ministers' Conference. The main talks were given by Jeremy Walker (brother of the more famous Dan), pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church

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There were also addresses by David Whitla (David and his family are members of the RPCNA and recently joined us for our Reformation trip to St Andrews), Knox Hyndman and Norris Wilson (moderator of RPCI Synod).

It was a really encouraging few days and those who attended have gone back to their congregations encouraged and revitalised for the glorious work they've been called to do.

"Give them the whole Bible!"

Kenneth Stewart (Glasgow RPCS) preaching at the ordination in Stornoway Town Hall last night

Kenneth Stewart (Glasgow RPCS) preaching at the ordination in Stornoway Town Hall last night

Last night saw the ordination of Stephen McCollum as minister in Stornoway. At an ordination service, one of the other ministers is usually given the task of addressing the new minister and exhorting him in one or more particular aspects of his work.

One such address was given in Stranraer in 1932 by Rev. Andrew Cross Gregg at the ordination of Mr Moffett Blair as minister - and it's still as relevant as ever.

After warning about the mistake of thinking that orthodox sermons are more important than a Christ-like life, the older minister went on:

"Another great mistake we ministers make is that we do not give our people enough of the Bible. We have preached too much and too often from single verses and single clauses, and not often enough from whole passages. I advise you to serve to your people big slices of the bread of life...The late Mr. Struthers once took for his text the 119th Psalm - the whole 176 verses! The sermon was printed, and a fine sermon it is, and not too long either! Give your hearers plenty of the Bible. Give them the whole Bible.

A. C. Gregg, then minister in Greenock

A. C. Gregg, then minister in Greenock

After more than forty years of attempt to preach I regret to have to confess that there still remain large and fertile tracts of Bible material which I have never tried to expound. I have, of course, taken many texts from the great Prophets of Israel, but I have not yet tried to travel right through Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Daniel, to bring to my hearers some of the rich and luscious fruit of the linked thoughts of those grand, inspired men with their living and creative messages.

I take it for granted that you are a diligent student of the Word of God. Walk through the length of it and the breadth of it, survey its heights and its depths, its green pastures and its quiet waters, and then take your people through that good land and let them feel by experience that it is flowing with milk and honey".

- A. C. Gregg, 'To a young minister' in R. P. Witness (Dec 1932), 279-280.

The Reformer John Calvin also urged the importance of studying Scripture in its context. Commenting on a frequent misunderstanding of Isaiah 14:12 (that 'Lucifer' is another name for Satan), he says: 'When passages of Scripture are taken up at random, and no attention is paid to the context, we need not wonder that mistakes of this kind frequently arise'.

As he concluded his ordination address, Gregg said: 'I can assure you, my dear young brother, that there is far more cause to-day for a happy view of the future of our Church than I have ever seen'. Perhaps some of us could say the same today - but if we do, may it not be because our confidence is in men, but because it is in the Word of God. And not just parts of it, but all of it! 'Give them the whole Bible'.