The first UK Birmingham Conference was held on 12-13 March, hosted by Ebenezer Baptist Church, Cradley Heath.
Mainly for ministers and their wives, it was organised to support the stated aim of the new Christian Worship hymnbook, to uphold traditional standards of reverent worship. The underlying emphasis was to reassert the majesty of God, the glory of his grace in Christ and the humble seriousness which should characterise our approach to him.
Pastor Malcolm Watts of Salisbury gave two addresses on the office and work of the minister. He urged ministers to renounce frivolity in the pulpit, so that worship should be recognised as a serious matter not a form of entertainment.
Roland Burrows, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, gave two rousing papers on the colourful ministry of the early Methodist ‘helpers’ – sometimes called ‘Wesley’s veterans’.
Friday evening was a public rally, with many members from Ebenezer and other local churches in attendance. Pastor Vernon Higham preached from Jeremiah 14, drawing a parallel between Jeremiah’s day and our own, with a spiritual famine in the land. He then analysed the reason for it – wilful wandering from God’s ways.
An afternoon discussion session focused on the minister’s devotional life, while Mrs Morwen Higham spoke at a separate ladies’ meeting. Pastors Burrows, Higham and Watts spoke helpfully and warmly of their own experiences with the Lord.
The conference is a new venture, and around 30 ministers attended, along with a good representation of church officers and those training for the ministry. It is hoped that the scope and influence of the conference will increase in coming years.