‘Get Ready for Reformation’ was the title announced at a special information rally, organised by the Reformation 500 Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and held in its Ballymena church.
Its purpose was to update congregations and interested individuals on the Church’s plans to mark the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s historic protest. Most of its congregations in N. Ireland were represented. Committee convener Rev. Dr Ron Johnstone welcomed an all-age gathering, well in excess of 300 people, and introduced the varied programme.
Two short addresses were delivered by the Church’s professors of systematic theology and historical theology. Immediate past moderator Rev. John Greer presented a succinct overview of ‘Justification’, the key doctrine of the Reformation era. Clerk of presbytery Rev. Dr Ian Brown gave a compelling and timely assessment of ‘Luther and the primacy of preaching’. Both addresses were well received.
The Reformation era witnessed significant advances in the practice of congregational singing. Rev. David Brown, current youth council president, outlined details of a project to produce a commemorative CD with hymns by Luther and others on Reformation themes.
The moderator, Rev. Thomas Murray, also addressed the gathering. His vision is to see the anniversary become a spring-board for evangelism, proclaiming with renewed vigour the message of ‘salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone’. He revealed plans for various events and projects during 2017.
Various displays, including specially prepared boards, were in place in the adjacent hall. The committee had prepared sample packs of relevant literature, made available free of charge to congregations on the day. It is hoped this will encourage many to provide appropriate material for children and young people, who need to be taught, more than ever, the Reformation story.
The rally also marked the launch of a study guide entitled Why do the five solas matter today? Its text, along with other material, will be posted on the campaign webpage www.justbyfaithalone.net
Late in 2017, the Reformation 500 Committee hopes to post gospel literature to 790,000 homes in N. Ireland. Mr Johnstone pronounced the venture a resounding success and expressed appreciation to those who had put in many hours of work behind the scenes, and to those who had travelled in from all parts of the province and beyond. It is hoped this memorable day will be an earnest of things to come, to God’s glory.