This month, Dr Geoff Thomas, pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth, for the last 48 years, turns 75.
He was ambushed during August’s Evangelical Movement of Wales annual conference in Aberystwyth, when he was presented with a book of essays that is to be published on 15 October to celebrate his long and influential ministry.
Clearly moved by the gesture, he uncharacteristically had to admit that he was ‘lost for words’. The conference setting seemed appropriate, as Geoff is such a good friend to it. Many present had begun their week listening to him preach his annual mini-series down the hill in Bethel.
The festschrift or celebration writing idea is borrowed from the world of academia, where professors are often presented with a book of papers by students and colleagues as a mark of respect on a significant birthday. This volume will be called The Holy Spirit and reformed spirituality and is edited by Derek Thomas and Joel Beeke for Reformed Heritage Books.
It begins with a biographical piece by Geoff’s son-in-law, Gary Brady, and a set of interviews with ministers who once sat at Geoff’s feet, compiled by Paul Levy. This is followed by a number of essays pertinent to the theme, by an international array of Reformed pastors and others.
Contributors include Carl Trueman, Joel Beeke, Fred Malone, Robert Oliver, Gary Benfold, Sam Waldron, John J. Murray, Ian Hamilton, Derek Thomas, Iain D. Campbell, Conrad Mbewe and Austin Walker.
These essays will be worth reading in their own right, but also bear testimony to God’s goodness to a much loved and respected man and his ministry.
Such a presentation inevitably raises the question of retirement. The situation is that his church is currently considering the future, but Geoff is still full of vigour and likely to be in place when the 50 milestone is reached in two years time.