See here for report on Art Azurdia III's main addresses.
The Conference proper, which gathers in the Aberystwyth University Great Hall, begins with Monday evening's meeting. But many people like to arrive on the Saturday, so special services are held on the Lord's Day. The congregation from Alfred Place Baptist Church, where Geoff Thomas is the preacher relocates to the larger Bethel Chapel to accommodate conference-goers. Services are also held at Zion Chapel on the opposite side of the road. Its is great to see hundreds of Christians queuing up to attend these services. We worshipped at Zion where Paul Levy preached on 2 Corinthians 5 in the morning and Robert Thomas spoke on 1 Peter 2:28-25 in the evening.
John Treharne preached on Monday evening. He spoke on David's kindness to Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9, using the passage to illustrate God's grace to sin-broken sinners. At some points, the message strayed beyond typology into allegory. But the gospel was presented with winsome clarity. Stuart Olyott gave the first of his two evening messages on Tuesday, preaching on Psalm 14, "God and the Dawkins Generation". He seems to break all the homiletical rules with his lists of points and sub-points. But this was a powerful message, delivered with the preacher's customary clarity of thought and directness. Stuart exposed the emptiness of atheism and unfolded the characteristics of the true believer. He concluded with a rousing call for Christians to "come out of their holes" and to bear witness to the Lord. I liked his uncompromising presuppositional approach to atheism (following Romans 1) that relied on God's self-revelation in Scripture rather than design arguments. Rico Tice is known to many through his involvement with Christianity Explored. We have used the CE course with Rico's DVD presentations. But I had never heard him speak in the flesh until Wednesday evening's meeting. I think that he must be the first Evangelical Anglican to speak at Aber since Jim Packer in the 70's. Rico gave a challenging and lively message on Mark 9:30, emphasing the call to sacrificial Christian service. Wyn Hughes, minister of Heath Evangelical Church, Cardiff preached on Luke 12:13-21. He took a while to get into his stride and his delivery was occasionally a little Lloyd-Jonesian with some choice "No no's!" But the unconverted were plainly warned not to be like the "rich fool" in Jesus' parable. Stuart Olyott concluded wrapped things up with an exposition of John 15:1-8, entitled "A Christian's got to do what a Christian's got to do" - that is abide in Christ that we may bear fruit to the glory of God. The evening meetings have sometimes been a "problem area" in the conference, with some preachers seeming (understandably) overawed by the occasion and others not knowing quite when to stop. But this year, we were blessed with good, punchy, gospel-centred ministry. If you are thinking of ordering CD's or DVD's I'd especially recommend Stuart Olyott's addresses.
This year was my swansong as chief steward. Somewhat embarrassingly, Sarah and I were invited onto the platform during the Friday morning meeting to mark our "retirement", which made us feel a bit ancient. Dave Norbury of EMW kindly thanked us for our efforts. Sarah was presented with a basked of flowers and I received some books. Earlier in the week, someone asked if I was still acting as chief steward. They thought that I didn't seem to be doing much. I don't know whether that was a testimony to my delegatory management style or an indication of my indolence. But if any stewards are reading this, thanks for all your hard work!
CD's and DVD's can be ordered from the EMW office. Dates for Aber 2009: 10-14 August, main speaker Joel Beeke.