Despite the adverse weather conditions, some 70 ministers, church workers and their wives gathered for the fourth annual Birmingham Conference.
Although the snow came down heavily outside, hearts were warmed as God’s Word was faithfully preached over the two days. The speakers were Rev. John J. Murray (Inverness), Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi (Cheltenham) and Rev. Dafydd Morris (Carmarthen).
In two addresses, Mr Murray handled the vital subjects of ‘The fear of God’ and ‘The providence of God’. In the first, he addressed the doctrinal aspect before outlining practical ways that God’s fear should show itself in believers and churches.
He explained the need for churches to recover a biblical view of God. Such a recovery would have powerful consequences for believers and unbelievers. This doctrine should never just be academic, but affect every part of our lives — in sanctification, perspective, worship, fellowship and piety.
In the second address, he outlined the biblical doctrine of providence and its twofold nature, in creation and ongoing providence, including redemption.
This was followed by practical challenges for believers to read and trust in God’s providence, knowing that God’s purposes can never be thwarted and he always works for the good of his people.
Mr Mehrshahi spoke on ‘Holiness in the ministry’ and ‘Holiness in the church’. After underlining God’s holiness from Isaiah 6, he explained that the first principle of gospel ministry is holiness. As Robert Murray McCheyne stated: ‘My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness’.
Mr Mehrshahi challenged ministers present to remember the sacredness and greatness of the work they had been given to do. In his second address, he emphasised that it is God who makes the church holy, by redemption and sanctification.
All the messages came with authority and power. During Friday afternoon, there was an edifying fellowship meeting for the men on ‘Preparation for the Lord’s Day’. The ladies had a separate meeting led by Margaret Thackway.
Many attendees spent time before the Friday evening at the nearby Christian Heritage Centre in Rowley Regis. With a fine display of 50 illustrated panels and a host of Christian artefacts and books, this gives a helpful insight into the effect of Christianity on this country over the centuries.
On the Friday evening, Mr Morris preached a stirring gospel message on John 12:21, ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’. He spoke with striking clarity on the need for every person, whether believer or unbeliever, to look to the Lord Jesus Christ and, in particular, to his work at Calvary.
The Birmingham Conference has grown steadily since its inception and those in attendance this year were blessed with rich ministry and fellowship, as well as wonderful hospitality from Ebenezer Baptist Church. Next year’s conference is from 21-22 March 2014.
George Roland Burrows