Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Aber 2006

What makes over 1200 people head to the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth for the second week of August? Is it the gloriously unpredictable weather? Probably not. Torrential rain with the added bonus of thunder and lightning is not exactly the ideal backdrop for a holiday. Is it the sight of the old castle, trashed and ruined by the Roundheads? Er…no. The focus of this gathering is the preaching of the word of God and an opportunity to have fellowship with other believers. The worship is simple, with no elements of drama or dance. The singing is accompanied by a solitary organ not a pulsating worship group. We sing hymns old and new from the revised Christian Hymns. The main meetings fill the Great Hall of Aberystwyth University to capacity.

Aberystwyth Castle

Gwyn Williams, Pastor of the Welsh Evangelical Church in Cardiff started off the Conference by preaching on James 1:22-25. We must not listen to preaching so that we can compile of a list of our “Top Ten” preachers. The purpose of preaching is to hold up a mirror so that we see ourselves as God sees us. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only.

This year’s main Conference speaker was Joel Beeke, Pastor of Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church. In four addresses delivered each morning from Tuesday to Friday, he drew our attention to Jesus Christ, Walking as He Walked. Beeke is steeped in the writings and vital piety of the Reformers and Puritans. But his style is contemporary and up-to-date. We considered Jesus’ Cross Bearing & Ours, Jesus’ Office Bearing & Ours, Jesus’ Tears & Ours and Jesus’ Endurance & Ours. The preaching was expository, applicatory and experimental. There was a realism and pastoral sensitivity to the messages that called upon the congregation to take up the cross and follow Jesus to the end. People were moved, stirred and challenged to live for Christ.


Joel Beeke, preaching in the Great Hall

Liam Goligher, Senior Minister at Duke Street Church, Richmond spoke three times at the Conference. He preached powerfully on 2 Corinthians 5:21-21 on Tuesday evening, on Psalm 2 on Thursday evening and gave a seminar on What would the Doctor think of evangelicalism today? at a Wednesday afternoon seminar. Goligher made it clear that the somewhat pretentious sounding title for the seminar was not his suggestion. He went on to give us a penetrating Lloyd-Jonesian analysis of the state of evangelicalism today. He highlighted the dangers of process theology, the new perspective on Paul, and Emerging Church thinking. The speaker urged us to return to the Evangelicalism’s robust theological heritage in the great confessions of the Reformation and Puritan periods.

Aber Pier

Keith Hoare, a missionary in France preached on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 on Wednesday evening, drawing particular attention to the authority of Jesus. Geoff Thomas, Pastor of Alfred Place Baptists Church, Aberystwyth preached at the final meeting of the Conference on 1 Peter 1:8. He showed us that in Jesus, Christians have Someone to Believe In, Someone to Love, and A Goal in Life. He used these points to challenge non-Christians in the Congregation to turn to Jesus and seek him until they found him.

The preaching was warm and powerful, the fellowship friendly and meaningful. Meetings were held for children. Young people attended the popular extratime events where various subjects were discussed. A Missionary Exhibition filled the large Morlan building in the town. The Conference was well run by a helpful team of EMW Staff and volunteer Stewards.
Copies of all the preaching and seminars are available from the Evangelical Movement of Wales in cassette, CD and DVD format. Contact EMW here. The dates for Aber 2007 will be August 11th to 18th, with Ted Donnelly as the main Conference preacher.

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