The following letter was written by the minister of Stephen’s home congregation of Faughan in 1887 to the members of the church looking back on the year that was past.
131 years later, it’s still very relevant as we close out one year and begin another:
ANNUAL REPORT: Faughan Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1887
To the Members of the Congregation
In the good Providence of God we have been brought to the termination of another year of our congregational life; and it may not be inappropriate for me to briefly review the past, to glance at the future, and to put present duty before your minds. As we look back to the past, we are constrained to acknowledge the goodness of God, erewhile mixing trembling with our thankfulness. Another fifty-two Sabbaths are gone for ever, and what report have they borne on high? Certainly every one of them shall meet us again. Think you shall that meeting be joyful or sorrowful? We may not recal the past, we can improve present opportunities; let us do it in the diligent and attentive use of the public and private means of grace, divinely appointed as the scene of spiritual blessing. Death, whose hand is never still, has been busy during the year, some of our oldest members have been called home; but our sorrow is not that of those who have no hope. We desire to hear the Master’s voice saying – “Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Affliction, too, has cast its shadow over some homes – remember it has not come unsent; and realise that, though your tears may have washed your affections white, you have been in a Father’s hand, who, though smiting, can heal again.
The role of membership remains substantially the same as during the last year. Would that our list of members were all true members of Christ’s body; growing up to the fulness of the stature of manhood in Jesus Christ! Looking to the future, let us encourage one another, provoking to works of faith and labours of love; let us manifest the charity that suffereth long and is kind; let love unfeigned rule in your hearts, and in all things act worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, being in your walk and conversation living epistles, requiring no translation – read of all men.
The cause of Temperance demands your active sympathy. Drunkenness is slaying its thousands. Can you, as Church members, be indifferent? In the good work of Temperance, be fellow-labourers with Christ; coldness ought not to retard you, for Christ Himself was discouraged when among men; here, as everywhere else, “in due time ye shall reap if ye faint not.”
The young of the congregation I would earnestly urge to acquire the knowledge, which is “the best of the sciences” – the knowledge of Bible truth. If parents neglect their home duties of teaching and catechising, they are making their children pass through the fire to the Molech of ignorance and sin. The Church cannot take the place of family training; it can only assist it, and for this purpose all who are able ought to attend the Bible class on Sabbath mornings in the Church.
In conclusion, we crave anew an interest in your prayers, that the preaching of the word and administration of the ordinances in your midst may be blessed, and that journeying to the common home of the redeemed we may each one be drawn more closely together in the bonds of true sympathy – the sympathy founded upon love to God and truth – and thus in our different positions “serve our generation by the will of God.”
Commending you each one to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified,
I subscribe myself, dear Friends,
(Trevor Magee, Planted By A River, p. 64.)
Related Links: Don Whitney: Questions to ask at the start of a new year