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Conference – Grace Baptist Assembly 2018

July 2018 | by Mike Judge

Dr Alan Thomas
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There are plenty of practical steps that pastors and churches can take to help people suffering mental health issues, Professor Alan Thomas told the Grace Baptist Assembly.

Meeting at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, the Assembly heard Professor Thomas deliver two outstanding sessions. The first session, entitled ‘Mad, Bad or Sad?’, took a general look at mental health issues and the ways pastors and churches can help sufferers.

The second session looked more specifically at the issue of depression, and again made helpful suggestions about pastoral support for those experiencing this painful illness. There was also a question session, which was extremely helpful. All three sessions were insightful and practical.

Alan Thomas is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Newcastle University and Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust. He speaks at academic conferences all over the world.

He is also an elder at Newcastle Reformed Evangelical Church and is the author of Tackling Mental Illness Together: A Biblical And Practical Approach, which was reviewed in the March edition of ET.

The theme of the Grace Baptist Assembly 2018 was ‘we do not lose heart’. It was attended by 114 people from 53 different churches. The Assembly was opened by John McDonald, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Tenterden, who preached on the Lord Jesus calming the storm on Galilee.

Bill Hughes, a retired pastor now in membership at Christ Church, Deeside, delivered two heart-warming talks on ‘Discouragement: Causes, effects and cures.’ Will Niven, pastor of churches in Patos and Fier, Albania, spoke engagingly about the challenges faced by C.H. Spurgeon, and how they were not so different from our own modern pressures.

The Assembly heard about the work of the gospel in Albania, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia. News reports for thanksgiving and for prayerful concern were also received from churches represented at the Assembly.

The closing sermon was given by Matthew Cox, pastor at Union Chapel, Bethersden, Kent. He spoke clearly and encouragingly about the Lord’s promise in Acts 1, that his kingdom will reach the end of the earth. We should not therefore lose heart, he said.

Recordings of the talks and sermons are available online from the assembly website (gracebaptistassembly.org.uk). The dates for next year’s assembly are Tuesday 21 May to Thursday 23 May 2019.

Mike Judge