Thankfulness at LTS
Deep thankfulness to God characterised the two services held at London Theological Seminary on Saturday 14 June. The first service marked the completion by students of a two-year pastoral course; and the second, the retirement of Principal Philip Eveson and his wife Jennifer after a fruitful 31-year ministry in the seminary.
The chapel was full and resonated with over 200 voices lifted in praise. The congregation, a heartening mix of age, race and culture, was indicative of the seminary’s wide-ranging spiritual impact.
Mr Eveson delivered his final annual report, testifying of personal encouragement from working alongside incoming principal Robert Strivens for a year. He stressed that LTS is a seminary that seeks to train men vigorously in exegetical, biblical, historical, systematic and pastoral theology.
Academic standards are high and commitment to biblical truth absolute. He exhorted those present to pray for ‘the tide to turn in our nation’ and for the Lord to raise up humble, prayerful, teachable men, with the compassion of Christ, for gospel ministry. He expressed thankfulness for the good intake of students expected next year, especially from the UK.
The leaving students (from six nations) gave testimonies and outlined their future callings – ranging from evangelistic ministry in Madagascar to pastoral ministry in High Wycombe. One African student spoke of his search for training in true biblical Christianity rather than in what ‘became a philosophy in Greece, an institution at Rome, a culture in Western Europe, and an enterprise in the USA’. He had greatly appreciated the LTS course!
The Word did it all
Dr Michael Haykin of Canada brought the first sermon of the day – on Apollos (Acts 18:24-28). Apollos grasped the truth firmly by submitting to instruction from the Word of God. It was the power of that Word which prevailed in the great gospel harvests of Acts.
With a historian’s grasp, he demonstrated this principle at work in later history through a typically earthy remark of Martin Luther, ‘I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all’.
A refreshing tea was laid on in the garden. During the day Irving Steggles, who chaired ably and prayerfully through the entire afternoon, announced the appointment of Dr David Green as Vice Principal and indicated that Robert Strivens would deliver an inaugural public lecture on Tuesday 14 October.
After tea the congregation gathered for the second thanksgiving service. During this, many appreciative things were said about the Evesons. The addresses, seasoned with anecdote, wit and reverence, were given by Graham Harrison on behalf of past and present staff, and David Earl on behalf of former and current students.
The fruit and longevity of Mr Eveson’s teaching ministry as well as the behind-the-scenes service of his wife were clearly appreciated. A thoughtful gift of an ‘all expenses paid’ guided trip to Egypt was presented to the Evesons.
It fell to Pastor Geoff Thomas to bring the closing word. During a sermon on the final verses of Psalm 92 he presented a stirring collage of spiritual and historical influences brought to bear in Mr Eveson’s conversion and subsequent gospel labours. These influences included the ministry of the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
All were encouraged by Geoff Thomas’ reference to the promise that God’s servants ‘shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing’. May God’s blessing rest on Philip and Jennifer Eveson as they move into new spheres of service!