1998 BRF Family Holiday Conference

The fifth Family Holiday Conference sponsored by the British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) will be held this summer in Northern Ireland, God willing. The site will be the lovely Castlewellan Castle Christian Conference Center in Castlewellan, County Down. The impressive Castle and its spacious grounds are located five miles inland from Newcastle and the Irish Sea in a park of about 1,600 acres. The area is the northern foothills of the majestic Mourne Mountains. 

The theme of the conference will be "The Doctrine of the Last Things." The speakers will again be Prof. Herman Hanko and Prof. David Engelsma of the Protestant Reformed Seminary. Mr. David Blunt, chairman of the BRF, will also take part.

The dates are Saturday, July 25—Saturday, August 1, 1998.

The BRF has drawn up an informative brochure describing the conference. What follows is taken from this brochure, complete with British spelling.


This conference will be of a relaxed nature and adequate time will be available for recreation with family and friends.

Meetings will be held in the mornings and evenings in one of the large conference rooms and, except when optional tours are arranged, afternoons will be free. The bi-annual business meeting for members of the BRF will take place during the Conference.

Day visitors are most welcome to attend but any meals requested must be booked and paid for in advance.

The Conference theme is "The Doctrine of the Last Things." "The Doctrine of the Last Things" incorporates the final consummation of the counsel of the triune God, which along the way of sin and grace, death and the curse, as well as the wonder of salvation in Christ, is finally realized in the eternal kingdom and everlasting covenant of God, where the tabernacle of God will be with men. At the Conference the doctrine will be presented under the following headings:

1) The Idea of the World's End—the place and importance of eschatology;

2) The Millennium—an exposition and defence of amillennialism;

3) The Signs of Christ's Coming—near but not imminent;

4) Christ's Return—its time, manner, and purpose;

5) The Great Judgment Day—the parties, standard, and parts involved;

6) Our Calling With Respect to Christ's Coming and the End of the World.

Coach tours and day trips will be arranged to places of local interest and beauty.


Castlewellan Castle is situated 30 miles south of Belfast and 5 miles inland from the sea at Newcastle. Accommodation is in rooms varying in sizes from 2 to 10 bedded rooms. As the number of single rooms is limited, it is suggested that any persons wishing to attend the conference and insisting on having a single room, should make their own arrangements for accommodation outside the Conference Centre. There are a number of hotels and guest houses in the surrounding area. For more information contact Newcastle Tourist Information Centre, Central Promenade, Newcastle, Co. Down, BT33 0AA (Tel: 01396 722222). All rooms have hand basins and wardrobes, all beds have duvets, and there are showers on each floor. Sheets will be provided. The castle is situated in a large Forest Park, providing ample space for campers and caravaners. Enquiries concerning facilities and cost should be made directly to the Forest Park (Tel: 013967 78664).


Facilities are provided for the usual outdoor sports, such as football and volleyball, as well as a nine-hole putting course. There is a Games Room with pool, table tennis, and darts equipment. A large lake covers 40 hectares (100 acres) and is well stocked with trout, making it a popular spot for fishing. The safe and accessible nature of the waters has made it an increasingly popular location for canoeing and other water sport activities. The Forest Park offers pleasant and interesting opportunities for walking and the Centre has lounges, a coffee bar, a library, and a souvenir shop. Televisions and a pay phone are also on the premises.

Within easy reach of the Centre is the seaside resort of Newcastle ('Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea'), the cathedral town of Downpatrick (Town and immediate locale, including Saul, associated with Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint) and Castleward. The house is a unique mixture of Classical and Gothic styles with beautiful gardens. There are also the majestic Mourne Mountains which include Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland's highest mountain, and the artificial lakes in the Silent Valley.

Two full-day coach tours have been arranged, which are particularly designed for those not taking part in the planned recreational activities and games. The first will be to Downpatrick, Castleward, and Saul. The second will be to Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital city. An afternoon trip will also be arranged to Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains. In order to assist the organisation and administration of the coach tours, it is necessary this year that the bookings for these are included with bookings for the Conference.


Full Board Rates

Adults — £145 [$240.70]

16-12 — £95 [$157.70]

11-8 — £76 [$126.16]

7-4 — £52 [$119.52]

3-1 — £34 [$56.44]

Under 1 — Free

Students and those of reduced circumstances may qualify for reduction—please enquire for further details.

Day Visitors

Those who are not conference delegates are welcome to attend the public addresses throughout the week.

Coach Tours

(Tue. 28th) County Down Countryside — £8 [$13.28] (children under 15—£5 [$8.30])

(Wed. 29th) Newcastle and Mournes—free

(Thu. 30th) Belfast Day Trip—£8 [$13.28] (children under 15—£5 [$8.30])


By Plane: two airports serve Northern Ireland; Belfast International Airport near Antrim and Belfast City Airport near Holywood. By Sea: frequent ferry services operate between Stranraer and Belfast, and Cairnryan and Larne, while an overnight ferry connects Liverpool and Belfast. By Rail: trains run regularly between Larne and Belfast, and Belfast and Dublin, stopping at Newry.

Corporate transport will be provided to the Conference Centre at set times for visitors travelling by air or sea.

The BRF, sponsor of the conference, was founded in 1990 for the defense and propagation of the historic Reformed faith in the British Isles. Its doctrinal basis is "the divine inspired, infallible, and inerrant Holy Scriptures" as confessed in the "Three Forms of Unity" and in the Westminster Standards.

The stated objectives of the Fellowship are three:

1) "To promote a knowledge of the Reformed Faith in the British Isles, as defined in the Doctrinal Basis.

2) "To organise meetings, conferences, preaching services and other activities in order to further the Reformed Faith and to give practical expression to the unity enjoyed by Christians of Reformed persuasion.

3) "To encourage the formation of groups in different areas of the country who will seek to promote the Reformed Faith on a local level."

Although it is separate and distinct from the church in Ulster, the BRF has a close working relationship with the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland. Three men of the church are members of the BRF Committee, as is Rev. Ron Hanko. Through missionary Hanko, as well as the speakers at the BRF conferences, the Protestant Reformed Churches in America sustain a strong interest in the BRF and its activities, particularly the conferences. 

The other six members of the BRF Committee are Reformed and Presbyterian men from Scotland, England, and Wales. 

The biennial family conferences have proved to be a major work by the Fellowship, under the blessing of God. This conference will be the fifth. The first was held in the north of Wales. The subject was "Marriage and Family." The second was held in Northern Ireland. The subject was "The Covenant of Grace." The third was held in Scotland. The subject was "The Doctrine of Sovereign Grace." The fourth was held in the south of England. The subject was "The Doctrine of the Church." 

Attendance at the conferences has grown steadily. In recent years, the conferences have drawn interested visitors from different parts of the world, including what was formerly East Germany, Australia, Singapore, and the United States. By means of the conferences, important contacts have been made for the BRF. Men and women throughout the British Isles who embrace the Reformed faith as the gospel are enabled to meet and help each other. And, of course, the conferences are themselves occasions for instruction in the Word of God and for delightful fellowship.

The chief hope of the BRF is to attract interested persons from the British Isles. The Standard Bearer has a number of readers and correspondents in the British Isles. On behalf of the BRF, I extend an invitation to all these friends to attend the conference this summer. This is the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting. I encourage them to inform their acquaintances of the conference.

Nevertheless, the BRF is sincere in its invitation to all others to attend, particularly the members of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the United States and Canada. Those who have attended a BRF conference will enthusiastically attest to the warm welcome and fellowship at the conference.

The number of rooms in the Castle is limited. Those who want to be assured of a place in the Conference Center itself should register ("book") early. First come, first served.

In the United Kingdom, checks ("cheques") should be made payable to the British Reformed Fellowship and sent to:

The Booking Secretary, BRF

44 Rathmore Heights

Ballymena, Co. Antrim

Northern Ireland BT43 6NQ.

Two stamped addressed envelopes should be included.

In North America, registrations should be sent to:

Mr. Bill Oomkes

6299 Wing Ave., SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49512.

Those desiring more information, registration forms, or a brochure on Castlewellan Castle and environs can write Mr. Oomkes, or call him at (616) 698-6697.

May God bless the conference, that the Reformed faith may grow and prevail in the British Isles.