RPCS

Irish RP Synod

This past week, Stephen represented the Scottish RP Church at the Irish RP Church’s annual Synod meetings. This year Synod was held in Knockbracken RP Church, where Stephen had worked as an assistant for a year before coming to Stranraer.

The Synod began on the Monday night with a sermon by the outgoing Moderator, Rev. Andrew Kerr (Knockbracken). Rev. Mark Loughridge (Letterkenny and Milford), whose brother Peter is minister in North Edinburgh, was elected Moderator for the year ahead.

On Tuesday night, Stephen gave an update on the work of the Scottish RP Church, before preaching to begin the Wednesday morning day of prayer.

The Moderator and the American RP delegate then travelled across to Scotland for the meeting of our own Presbytery on Friday.

Stephen pictured with the Moderator and other delegates - William Macleod (FCC), Kevin Bidwell (EPCEW) and David Weir (RPCNA).

Stephen pictured with the Moderator and other delegates - William Macleod (FCC), Kevin Bidwell (EPCEW) and David Weir (RPCNA).

The Synod finished on the Wednesday night by commissioning Isaac Berrocal for mission work in Almuñécar and Nerja in Spain, a region where 90% of people have never heard the gospel.

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On the weekend prior to the Synod, Stephen spoke at Knockbracken’s annual church weekend on the ‘One anothers’ of the Bible.

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The most well-known name associated with Knockbracken is Thomas Houston, who was ordained there not long after William Symington began his ministry in Stranraer. Houston spent his whole ministry (1828 - 1882) in Knockbracken and Stephen spent a year studying his life for a Masters thesis in Irish history. Houston was a prolific author, whose book on prayer meetings has recently been digitised.

The current minister in Knockbracken is Andrew Kerr, who was the 2018 Moderator of Synod. Andrew writes regularly for the Gentle Reformation blog. Below is part of an interview he did for a recent documentary on the Welsh minister Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

New website & Hannah at camp

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The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland website has recently had a complete redesign. It features news from around the denomination, the latest online sermons from our ministers, a growing archive page of historical resources by and about the denomination, and more.

One of the first news articles on the new website was from our own Hannah, sharing about how she got on at Girls’ Adventure Camp last weekend.

She said: “At camp reunion this year the talks were on Luke chapter 15. We learnt about the rebellious son, older brother, and the father. They taught us about how the father forgives the son that spent all his money straight away, and that his love was unconditional. This represented Jesus’ love for us. We went swimming. We also had a fashion show on Saturday night. My favourite was the swimming. My favourite thing about reunion was seeing all my friends from camp and the talks.”

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Scottish Reformed Conference: RP videos

The Scottish Reformed Conference takes place every May at Hamilton College. The last two years have featured RP speakers - in 2017 it was Rev. Warren Peel from Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, and in 2018, Rev. Kenneth Stewart from Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

The videos of their sermons are below. Videos from other years are available here.

Can a church turn around?

The following was written in 2006 to describe the turnaround which had taken place in the RP church in Airdrie over the previous 12 years. Many of the things that were true of the church in Airdrie could also have been said of the church in Stranraer.

We're grateful to have had the input of two men who experienced the transformation of the congregation in Airdrie serving as interim elders in Stranraer and are confident that what God has done elsewhere he can do here.

The Airdrie congregation today

"What’s the purpose of church? Why does it exist?

It’s a question we had to face a few years ago as it became clear that our church was dying. Attendances were falling year after year, reaching a weekly average in the 20’s, and an average age in the 70’s. People would ‘come to church’ on a Sunday morning, but beyond that there wasn’t any real interest in being together as the church.

As we began to face the question of what could be done, we were soon reminded that the church is God’s, not ours. This in turn led us to realise that unless we did things his way, our descent into oblivion would continue. So we stopped doing things just for the sake of doing them, and started focusing on what God wants from his church. This didn’t happen overnight, it took time. First we concentrated on getting everyone to enjoy worshiping God twice on a Sunday, morning and evening. Then we considered how we could help one another in our study of God’s Word, which gave rise to weekly Bible studies in people's homes, and in the past couple of years we have been encouraging each other to meet together for prayer on a Sunday morning just before worship. The result - God has been transforming our church. We are no longer a small group of elderly people wandering fairly aimlessly along. We now have a clear sense of our purpose as a community of God’s people.

This change in focus has seen God bring new people into the church, people from all sorts of different backgrounds but with one thing in common - a desire to know more about God."

Edinburgh church plant becomes congregation

On Friday night, Stephen, Carla and Willow travelled to Edinburgh for the happy occasion of the constitution of the North Edinburgh church plant into a congregation of its own.

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Rev. Andrew Quigley (Airdrie) preached, speaking of how five years ago he had encouraged the small group interested in starting the church that Christ would bring in people as his word was preached. Five years later, the size of the group associated with the congregation standing at the front of the room testified to the truth of that statement.

We are seeing the same thing happening in Stranraer, and Friday evening was an encouragement to keep going, looking to Christ to build his church through the preaching of his word.