I am told there was a vision for this to happen 30 years ago, so no one can accuse us of acting hastily! The desire is for Reformed Baptists scattered across Scotland to meet together for fellowship and mutual encouragement in the Word of God and prayer.
The Grace Baptist Directory has merely eight entries for the whole of Scotland (though there are other unlisted fellowships), and the distance from Gretna to John O’Groats is 360 miles (more than seven hours to drive). So, 3-5 October 2016, at the Atholl Centre, Pitlochry, was fixed. Invitations were sent out and positive responses received. A further nine joined on Tuesday, and a different eight on Wednesday.
The theme was ‘A heart for God’. Our main speaker, Richard Brooks, took us through the three ‘R’s of repentance, reformation and revival, drawing lessons from the life of Josiah.
Young King Josiah had a ‘tender heart’, as he wept over his and his people’s sins. We too should feel that we are not more searchingly affected by the Word of God; that we have limited our grasp of God’s greatness; that Christ is not more precious to us; and that we lack Christ’s compassion for the lost.
In his reforms, Josiah showed a ‘burning heart’, as he instigated a thoroughgoing purge of idolatry and return to the ways of God. We too need zeal for prayer, holiness, God-honouring worship, church and mission.
Finally, Josiah had a ‘joyful heart’ in serving the Lord and walking in his ways. We too may know great joy in the wonders of salvation, in the worship of God, in cherished bonds of Christian love, and in looking forward to the glories to come.
Under the title ‘Our debt to poor churches’, Peter Logie spoke movingly of efforts in recent years to help a group of churches in Nigeria. The church in Africa is afflicted with beliefs and practices contrary to the gospel.
Annual trips for the last 13 years by various men from the UK have brought biblical teaching to Nigerian pastors. A start has been made in sharing our rich spiritual heritage, but so much more needs to be done.
We were reminded of this heritage, as Reformed Baptists in Scotland, by Dr Nick Needham’s paper on the ‘Haldane brothers’. In a packed, fast-moving account we were encouraged to hear of what these two were able to accomplish 200 years ago. We heard how hundreds listened to open-air preaching, preaching stations were established, tracts written, books published and, of course, opposition faced.
A paper on the ‘Trinity’ was given by Conrad Pomeroy, in which he presented the scriptural evidence for a triune God, beginning with hints in the Old Testament and moving to the clear revelation of the New.
This was followed by teaching on the roles and relationships between the three persons of the Godhead. We were reminded of the importance of allowing Scripture to determine our understanding of God.
On the Tuesday afternoon we were taken on an historic walk by the inimitable David Scott (Wikipedia on two legs). We walked to Moulin, to find out more about Alexander Duff who was born there. This great missionary man and visionary mind made such a lasting impression on India that he is still held in high regard there.
We were also told of the impact Charles Simeon had when he preached at a Moulin communion in 1796, resulting in the conversion of the local minister. This was followed by an earnest and memorable time of prayer, when together we cried to God to build his church again in our land.
All this, in the beautiful setting of autumnal Perthshire and with amiable service provided by the Atholl Centre, made for a good start to what we hope will become an annual event.