Puritan Reformed Fellowship

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Last month Stephen attended a new gathering of Scottish ministers called the Puritan Reformed Fellowship. The conference was attended by like-minded men from the RPCS, Free Church of Scotland, Free Church Continuing, International Presbyterian Church and Associated Presbyterian Churches, as well as by one brother from the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC).

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The conference was held in the Macdonald Crutherland House Hotel in East Kilbride. It was a good, central location, and with a number of men coming from the Inverness area and the Western Isles, relatively close to Stranraer!

Eating and talking together was one of the highlights of the conference

Eating and talking together was one of the highlights of the conference

Proceedings began on a Monday night a talk by Malcolm Watts (Emmanuel Church Salisbury) on 'What is a Reformed Church?' (he has a book by the same title). The next morning he spoke on 'Five Solas of the Reformation', before an interesting lecture on the Lord's Supper by Malcolm Maclean (Greyfriars Free Church, Inverness). Dr Maclean reminded us that Reformers like Calvin thought the Lord's Supper should be held far more frequently than it is today - and questioned the helpfulness of the traditional Highland Communion Season in this regard.

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In the afternoon Joel Beeke (Heritage Reformed Congregation, Grand Rapids), who had just arrived from America, spoke on 'Puritan Worship' and 'Puritan Preaching'. He spoke twice again that evening at a Scottish Reformation Society meeting that was open to the public.

The next morning, Dr Beeke gave his final talk on 'Puritan Evangelism', before Dr Donald John Maclean (an elder in Cambridge Presbyterian Church and author of James Durham and the Gospel Offer in its Seventeenth Century Context) spoke about the life of Durham, a Covenanter minister and author who died at 36. Dr Maclean challenged the divided Presbyterian denominations in Scotland to unity:

It's at this point that we have fallen furthest from our Reformed heritage. Durham simply would not recognise, could not comprehend, the multiplicity of orthodox Westminster Confession, Presbyterian denominations. He could not understand three psalm singing churches in a small village, struggling to support ministers, while towns with tens of thousands of people have no basic Reformed witness. He would quite simply say that we are, taken as a whole, in a state of sinful division

Perhaps by God's grace this conference will be a first step towards healing these divisions and changing the Confessionally Reformed church scene in Scotland.

First ever Firm Foundations weekend!

During the last weekend of October we held our first ever Firm Foundations weekend. Those signing up for it were promised a weekend of intense theological instruction, made up of both lectures and formal and informal discussion.

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We were delighted to have seven guys attending - from both Scotland and Ireland, as well as inside and outside the RP Church. We were thrilled that David Whitla was able to join us to give the lectures.

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David, a Scottish native and former pastor at Southside Indianapolis (RPCNA) is currently studying for a PhD focussing on Scottish Covenanter Theology and Spirituality at Queen's University Belfast in preparation to return to the States to teach at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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David also helped pioneer the hugely popular and successful Theological Foundations for Youth programme, which has had a big impact for good in the RPCNA and influenced a future generation of ministers, elders and members.

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Things began on Saturday afternoon (David had been speaking at the RPCS Presbytery on the Saturday morning) with a lecture on the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ - a topic on which the definitive book was written by former Stranraer minister William Symington.

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After tea, David set the guys a 'Bible readiness' quiz, aimed at showing them how well we need to know our Bibles, but which also opened up many areas for discussion.

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On the Lord's Day, the guys joined us for the prayer meeting and morning worship. Following this we had a church lunch, which provided a chance for the congregation to get to know our visitors.

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After lunch, David gave a talk on where the RP Church came from, focussing mostly on the 17th Century Covenanters. We were glad that some of the congregation were able to stay around for it.

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After evening worship, we had a 'Stump the Pastor' session where David answered questions the boys had submitted on topics such as Dispensationalism, God's regrets and Baptism.

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On Monday, David gave two more lectures, on the Lord's Day and the Regulative Principle of Worship. After some more informal discussion, the guys headed for home.

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We are grateful to God for a good weekend of fellowship and teaching, which hopefully gave those who came plenty to think about and work through, as well as giving them a taste of Stranraer!

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.